Australian Journal of Primary Health Australian Journal of Primary Health Society
The issues influencing community health services and primary health care
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Self-management of chronic conditions in a rural and remote context

Adem Sav A F , Michelle A. King B , Fiona Kelly C , Sara S. McMillan A , Elizabeth Kendall A , Jennifer A. Whitty A D and Amanda J. Wheeler A E

A Population and Social Health Research Program, School of Human Services and Social Work, Griffith Health Institute, Griffith University, University Drive, Meadowbrook, Qld 4131, Australia.

B School of Pharmacy, Griffith University, Gold Coast Campus, Parklands Drive, Southport, Qld 4215, Australia.

C School of Human Services and Social Work, Griffith University, Logan Campus, University Drive, Meadowbrook, Qld 4131, Australia.

D Centre for Applied Health Economics, Griffith Health Institute, Griffith University, Logan Campus, University Drive, Meadowbrook, Qld 4131, Australia.

E School of Pharmacy, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland 1142, New Zealand.

F Corresponding author. Email: a.sav@griffith.edu.au

Australian Journal of Primary Health 21(1) 90-95 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/PY13084
Submitted: 19 June 2013  Accepted: 23 August 2013   Published: 18 October 2013

Abstract

Living in a rural or remote environment presents unique challenges for people with chronic conditions, mainly those created by limited health-care services and the physical and emotional isolation. Yet, research on how people self-manage their chronic conditions in such locations is limited. This study aims to contribute to research and clinical practice by describing the ways in which a diverse group of rural and remote people with a range of chronic conditions, and their unpaid carers, self-manage their conditions. Using semi-structured in-depth interviews, data was collected from a sample of 32 participants, residing in one of two regions of Australia: Mount Isa/North West region of Queensland and the Northern Rivers area of New South Wales. Our findings suggest that although self-managing in a rural and remote context requires many of the lifestyle changes necessary in urban areas, the uniqueness of the rural lifestyle and the limited availability of health care results in, at times, creative forms of self-management. Health-care professionals and policy makers need to be cognisant of the ways in which rural and remote residents modify self-management strategies to suit their needs, and help them develop self-management plans tailored to the realities of their rural environment.


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