How primary health care staff working in rural and remote areas access skill development and expertise to support health promotion practice

McFarlane, Kathryn, Judd, Jennifer, Wapau, Hylda, Nichols, Nina, Watt, Kerrianne, and Devine, Sue (2018) How primary health care staff working in rural and remote areas access skill development and expertise to support health promotion practice. Rural and Remote Health, 18. 4413.

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Abstract

Introduction: Health promotion is a key component of comprehensive primary health care. Health promotion approaches complement healthcare management by enabling individuals to increase control over their health. Many primary healthcare staff have a role to play in health promotion practice, but their ability to integrate health promotion into practice is influenced by their previous training and experience. For primary healthcare staff working in rural and remote locations, access to professional development can be limited by what is locally available and prohibitive in terms of cost for travel and accommodation. This study provides insight into how staff at a large north Queensland Aboriginal community controlled health service access skill development and health promotion expertise to support their work.

Methods: A qualitative exploratory study was conducted. Small group and individual semi-structured interviews were conducted with staff at Apunipima Cape York Health Council (n=9). A purposive sampling method was used to recruit participants from a number of primary healthcare teams that were more likely to be involved in health promotion work. Both on-the-ground staff and managers were interviewed. All participants were asked how they access skill development and expertise in health promotion practice and what approaches they prefer for ongoing health promotion support. The interviews were transcribed verbatim and analysed thematically.

Results: All participants valued access to skill development, advice and support that would assist their health promotion practice. Skill development and expertise in health promotion was accessed from a variety of sources: conferences, workshops, mentoring or shared learning from internal and external colleagues, and access to online information and resources. With limited funds and limited access to professional development locally, participants fostered external and internal organisational relationships to seek in-kind advice and support. Irrespective of where the advice came from, it needed to be applicable to work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander remote communities.

Conclusions: To improve health outcomes in rural and remote communities, the focus on health promotion and prevention approaches must be strengthened. Primary healthcare staff require ongoing access to health promotion skill development and expertise to increase their capacity to deliver comprehensive primary health care. Practice-based evidence from staff working in the field provides a greater understanding of how skill development and advice are accessed. Many of these strategies can be formalised through organisational plans and systems, which would ensure that a skilled health promotion workforce is sustained

Item ID: 53691
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1445-6354
Keywords: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, Australia, capacity building, health promotion, primary health care, professional development
Copyright Information: © Kathryn A McFarlane, Jenni Judd, Hylda Wapau, Nina Nichols, Kerrianne Watt, Sue Devine 2018 A licence to publish this material has been given to James Cook University, jcu.edu.au.
Date Deposited: 24 Aug 2018 00:04
FoR Codes: 11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1117 Public Health and Health Services > 111701 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health @ 35%
11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1117 Public Health and Health Services > 111712 Health Promotion @ 35%
11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1117 Public Health and Health Services > 111717 Primary Health Care @ 30%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9203 Indigenous Health > 920303 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health - Health System Performance (incl. Effectiveness of Interventions) @ 100%
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