From 'problem-describing' to 'problem-solving': Challenging the 'deficit' view of remote and rural health

Lisa Bourke, John Humphreys, John Wakerman, J Taylor

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    61 Citations (Scopus)


    Objective: Rural and remote health research has highlighted the many problems experienced in the bush. While attention to problems has raised awareness of the needs of rural and remote health, embedding a deficit perspective in research has stereotyped rural and remote health as poor environments to work in and as inherently problematic. The objectives of this paper are to challenge this thinking and suggest that a more balanced approach, acknowledging strengths, is beneficial. Design: This discussion identifies why the deficit approach is problematic, proposes a strengths-based approach and identifies some key strengths of rural and remote health. Results: This study suggests alternative ways of thinking about rural and remote practice, including the rewards of rural and remote practice, that rural and remote communities can act as change agents, that these disciplines actively address the social determinants of health, that rural and remote areas have many innovative primary health care services and activities and that rural and remote contexts provide opportunities for evaluation and research. It is proposed that rural and remote health can be viewed as problem-solving, thus dynamic and improving rather than as inherently problematic. Conclusion: Critical of a deficit approach to rural and remote health, this paper provides alternatives ways of thinking about these disciplines and recommends a problem-solving perspective of rural and remote health.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)205-209
    Number of pages5
    JournalAustralian Journal of Rural Health
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - Oct 2010


    • Deficit
    • Problem
    • Remote health
    • Rural health
    • Strengths-based


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