4 years ago

Care interrupted: Poverty, in-migration, and primary care in rural resource towns

Internationally, rural people have poorer health outcomes relative to their urban counterparts, and primary care providers face particular challenges in rural and remote regions. Drawing on ethnographic fieldnotes and 14 open-ended qualitative interviews with care providers and chronic pain patients in two remote resource communities in Northern Ontario, Canada, this article examines the challenges involved in providing and receiving primary care for complex chronic conditions in these communities. Both towns struggle with high unemployment in the aftermath of industry closure, and are characterized by an abundance of affordable housing. Many of the challenges that care providers face and that patients experience are well-documented in Canadian and international literature on rural and remote health, and health care in resource towns (e.g. lack of specialized care, difficulty with recruitment and retention of care providers, heavy workload for existing care providers). However, our study also documents the recent in-migration of low-income, largely working-age people with complex chronic conditions who are drawn to the region by the low cost of housing. We discuss the ways in which the needs of these in-migrants compound existing challenges to rural primary care provision. To our knowledge, our study is the first to document both this migration trend, and the implications of this for primary care. In the interest of patient health and care provider well-being, existing health and social services will likely need to be expanded to meet the needs of these in-migrants.

Publisher URL: www.sciencedirect.com/science

DOI: S0277953617305257

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