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Original Research

A decade of Rural Clinical School research: a PubMed review

Submitted: 30 October 2014
Revised: 15 June 2015
Accepted: 17 June 2015
Published: 8 October 2015

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Author(s) : Bailey JK, Mendis K, Dutton T, Stevens W, McCrossin T.

Citation: Bailey JK, Mendis K, Dutton T, Stevens W, McCrossin T.  A decade of Rural Clinical School research: a PubMed review. Rural and Remote Health (Internet) 2015; 15: 3353. Available: (Accessed 18 October 2017)


Introduction:  One parameter of the operational framework of the Australian Rural Clinical Training & Support Program (RCTS) is rural health research, yet there are no published reports of the research outcomes generated by these hallmarks of Australian rural medical education. To assess the contribution of RCTS to rural health research, their MEDLINE-indexed research publications over the last decade was analysed, using a bibliometric method.
Methods:  MEDLINE-indexed RCTS publications from 2004 to 2013 were retrieved using validated PubMed queries. Two authors independently checked all retrieved RCTS publications for validity. Australian rural health (ARH) publications from RCTS were selectively enumerated and their proportion among all Australian rural health publications in each year was determined. ARH publications were defined as Australian publications that explore issues relevant to the health of the regional, rural or remote Australian population. RCTS publications related to medical education, Indigenous health, rural service areas, National Health Priority Areas (NHPA), and National Rural Health Alliance Priority Areas (NRHAPA) were analysed. Frequency of publication in different journals was also compared.
Results:  A total of 280 RCTS publications were retrieved, increasing from 10 in 2004 to 49 in 2013. ARH topics dominated (177 articles; 67%). RCTS rural health publications increased as a proportion of all ARH publications from 3.4% in 2004 to 7.7% in 2013. Other RCTS publications increased from 2 (20% of total) in 2004 to 19 (39% of total) in 2013, and covered topics such as mental health, cancer, diabetes, obesity and asthma. RCTS medical education publications increased from 3 in 2004 to 14 in 2013. In total, 81 articles were retrieved comprising 28.9% of all RCTS publications. Indigenous health (18; 6%), rural populations (37; 13%) and rural health services (83; 29%) were the other important categories relevant to the RCTS funding parameters. RCTS publications also included NHPA (57; 20%) and NRHAPA (61; 22%). The main journals publishing RCTS research in this time period were Rural and Remote Health (16%), Australian Journal of Rural Health (13%) and Australian Family Physician (9%).
Conclusions:  This first study to report on the research efforts of RCTS researchers has shown that they are making a valuable contribution to rural health research and increasingly so within the research parameters indicated. These data represent a benchmark of research strengths and highlight research areas that should be strengthened with targeted research to best promote the health of rural Australians.

Key words: Australia, bibliometrics, regional medical school, research, rural clinical school, rural health.

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