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Title: A missing factor in the reporting of medical research outcomes: Geographic classification of participants
Contributor(s): Wark, Stuart  (author)orcid 
Publication Date: 2017
Open Access: Yes
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Abstract: Background : It is known that rurally-residing individuals are often at a significant health disadvantage when compared to urban peers. Improving the health of rural residents has been directly identified as a key priority across the world; however, as models of healthcare are primarily derived from evidence-based research, any failure by the researcher base to consider rural needs may result in a poor alignment of health services against actual need. This paper reviews how consistently participants' geographic classification is identified and considered as a factor in research reported in a leading medical journal, The Lancet. Method : Using a predetermined definition of rurality as being locations with a population below 100,000 people, 300 eligible articles were reviewed retrospectively from The Lancet's 2015-2017 editions. The purpose was to establish if the methodology and findings of these 300 research papers actively considered the geographic classification of participants. Results : In approximately 60% of the 300 reviewed studies it was not possible to accurately determine participants' geographic classification. Only 2% of papers focused on rural participants in isolation, with 18% using solely urban residents. The remaining 20% of papers had both rural and urban participants. Conclusion : This sample of The Lancet articles indicates minimal attention has been paid to participants' geographic classification. This failure to consider the relevance of location as a factor in outcomes potentially limits the applicability of research findings to a significant proportion of the community, and raises concerns about using such evidence bases for determining national health frameworks and practice guidelines.
Publication Type: Journal Article
Source of Publication: European Science Editing, 43(4), p. 76-79
Publisher: European Association of Science Editors
Place of Publication: United Kingdom
ISSN: 0258-3127
Fields of Research (FoR) 2008: 111708 Health and Community Services
111712 Health Promotion
111709 Health Care Administration
Fields of Research (FoR) 2020: 420305 Health and community services
420603 Health promotion
420306 Health care administration
Socio-Economic Objective (SEO) 2008: 920408 Health Status (e.g. Indicators of Well-Being)
920204 Evaluation of Health Outcomes
920206 Health Inequalities
Socio-Economic Objective (SEO) 2020: 200407 Health status (incl. wellbeing)
200202 Evaluation of health outcomes
200204 Health inequalities
Peer Reviewed: Yes
HERDC Category Description: C1 Refereed Article in a Scholarly Journal
Appears in Collections:Journal Article
School of Rural Medicine

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