Examining regional health inequalities in Australia

A Flinders Foundation Health Seed Grant will help Flinders University researcher Dr Joanne Flavel examine health inequalities of Australians living in rural and regional areas compared with those living in metropolitan areas.

Despite overall progress across a range of social and economic indicators, health inequality is worsening in Australia compared to the 1980s.

“People living in rural and remote areas experience significant health inequalities, including a higher burden of disease, lower median age of death and higher mortality,” Dr Flavel explains.

“However there has been limited research on the indicators of, and impact of, regional inequality in social determinants of health, and on the health inequalities between metropolitan areas and regional, rural and remote areas.”

Social determinants of health are the non-medical factors that influence health outcomes. They are the conditions in which people are born, grow, work, live, and age, such as quality of housing, level of education, income and wealth.

By analysing publicly available data, Dr Flavel will work to understand the ways the social determinants of health contribute to health inequalities to enable better assessment of the impact of regional policies designed to improve poverty and reduce disadvantage. This knowledge could also facilitate better, targeted, and equitable assistance to regions.

Dr Flavel also received a Flinders Foundation Health Seed Grant in 2019 for her research to identify ways in which the distribution of employment, wealth and income have contributed to the increase in socio-economic health inequalities in Australia between the 1980s and 2016.


Research category: Regional and Rural Health

Project title: Examining regional health inequalities in Australia and social determinants of health

Lead researcher: Dr Joanne Flavel

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