Rural maternity care and health policy: parents’ experiences
Evans, Rebecca, Veitch, Craig, Hays, Richard, Clark, Michelle, and Larkins, Sarah (2011) Rural maternity care and health policy: parents’ experiences. Australian Journal of Rural Health, 19 (6). pp. 306-311.
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Objective: To explore rural residents’ experiences of access to maternity care with consideration of the policy context.
Design: This paper describes findings from focus groups with parents which formed part of case study data from a larger study.
Setting: Four north Queensland rural towns. Participants: Thirty-three parents living in one of the four rural towns.
Main outcome measures: Identifying prevalent themes in case studies regarding rural parents’ expectations and experiences in accessing maternity care.
Results: Parents desired a local, safe and consistent maternity service. Removing or downgrading rural services introduced new barriers to care for rural residents: (i) increased financial costs; (ii) family issues; and (iii) safety concerns.
Conclusions: Although concerns about rural residents’ health status and health care access have received significant policy attention for over a decade, many of the problems which prompted these policy initiatives remain today. Current policy approaches should be re-evaluated in order to improve rural Australians’ access to vital health services such as maternity care.
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