The Spinifex Network has recently released a new paper, the Haitham Report, to demonstrate the value of rural, remote, regional research through its innovative value of information analysis.

Despite 30% of Australia’s population living rurally, in 2018, only 2.4% of National Health and Medical Research Council funding went towards research specifically aimed at delivering health benefits to people who live in rural or remote Australia. Given this, existing policy and intervention programmes in these regions is informed through historical data, which tends to be outdated or only captures an estimate of value at a specific point in time.

As a result, the gap in successful healthcare interventions between these rural, remote, and regional communities and their urban counterparts only continues to grow.

With the aim of addressing this gap through research advocacy, the Spinifex Network has commissioned two of Australia’s leading health researchers to quantify the potential return on investment of rural research. In their latest publication – Estimating the Return on Investment of a Randomised Controlled Trial on Telehealth-based Medical Nutrition Intervention in Rural and Regional Australia – Associate Professor Haitham Tuffaha and Professor Stephen Birch from the Centre for the Business and Economics of Health at the University of Queensland demonstrate how high-quality, rurally-based research offers significant opportunities for economic, social and community development.

The research report describes the significant discrepancy between rural and urban populations. Rural populations are found with 20-30% higher rates of cardiovascular disease (CVD), resulting in a disproportional burden of disease without the healthcare capacity or funds to effectively respond. In itself, CVD costs $10.4 billion annually.

The researchers propose the use of an innovative new research methodology – the value of information analysis – which first quantifies the potential impact of proposed research. Demonstrating such an approach towards CVD research, the researchers find potential pay-off up to $20.70 million. 

One of the first studies to propose this innovative approach, Spinifex and its research network prove the value of rural, remote, and regional research studies and highlight the return on investment of such research that reliably addresses the true healthcare needs of remote and regional populations in Australia.

Please reach out if you are interested in learning more about the work of the Spinifex Network and supporting their mission of a stronger, healthier Australia which celebrates the potential of rural, remote, and regional research and the vibrancy of these communities.

Download the Haitham report