Models of care involving district hospitals: a rapid review to inform the Australian rural and remote context

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Nancarrow, SA, Roots, A, Grace, S & Saberi, V 2015, 'Models of care involving district hospitals: a rapid review to inform the Australian rural and remote context', Australian Health Review, vol. 39, pp. 494-507.

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Objectives. District hospitals are important symbolic structures in rural and remote communities; however, little has been published on the role, function or models of care of district hospitals in rural and remote Australia. The aim of the present study was to identify models of care that incorporate district hospitals and have relevance to the Australian rural and remote context. Methods. A systematic, rapid review was conducted of published peer-reviewed and grey literature using CINAHL, Medline, PsychInfo, APAIS-Health, ATSI health, Health Collection, Health & Society, Meditext, RURAL, PubMed and Google Scholar. Search terms included ‘rural’, ‘small general and district hospitals’, ‘rural health services organisation & administration’, ‘medically underserved area’, ‘specific conditions, interventions, monitoring and evaluation’, ‘regional, rural and remote communities’, ‘NSW’, ‘Australia’ and ‘other OECD countries’ between 2002 and 2013. Models of teaching and education, multipurpose services centres, recruitment and/or retention were excluded. Results. The search yielded 1626 articles and reports. Following removal of duplicates, initial screening and full text screening, 24 data sources remained: 21 peer-reviewed publications and three from the grey literature. Identified models of care related specifically to maternal and child health, end-of-life care, cancer care services, Aboriginal health, mental health, surgery and emergency care. Conclusion. District hospitals play an important role in the delivery of care, particularly at key times in a person’s life (birth, death, episodes of illness). They enable people to remain in or near their own community with support from a range of services. They also play an important role in the essential fabric of the community and the vertical integration of the health services.

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