Different perspectives on the key challenges facing rural health: The challenges of power and knowledge
AuthorMalatzky, C; Bourke, L
Source TitleAustralian Journal of Rural Health
AffiliationRural Clinical School
Document TypeJournal Article
CitationsMalatzky, C. & Bourke, L. (2018). Different perspectives on the key challenges facing rural health: The challenges of power and knowledge. AUSTRALIAN JOURNAL OF RURAL HEALTH, 26 (6), pp.436-440. https://doi.org/10.1111/ajr.12436.
Access StatusOpen Access
ARC Grant codeARC/DP170101187
OBJECTIVE: To examine the effects of dominant knowledge in rural health, including how they shape issues central to rural health. In particular, this article examines the roles of: (i) deficit knowledge of rural health workforce; (ii) dominant portrayals of generalism; and (iii) perceptions of inferiority about rural communities in maintaining health disparities between rural- and metropolitan-based Australians. DESIGN: A Foucauldian framework is applied to literature, evidence, case studies and key messages in rural health. Three scenarios are used to provide practical examples of specific knowledge that is prioritised or marginalised. RESULTS: The analysis of three areas in rural health identifies how deficit knowledge is privileged despite it undermining the purpose of rural health. First, deficit knowledge highlights the workforce shortage rather than the type of work in rural practice or the oversupply of workforce in metropolitan areas. Second, the construction of generalist practice as less skilled and more monotonous undermines other knowledge that it is diverse and challenging. Third, dominant negative stereotypes of rural communities discourage rural careers and highlight undesirable aspects of rural practice. CONCLUSION: The privileging of deficit knowledge pertaining to rural health workforce, broader dominant discourses of generalism and the nature of rural Australian communities reproduces many of the key challenges in rural health today, including persisting health disparities between rural- and metropolitan-based Australians. To disrupt the operations of power that highlight deficit knowledge and undermine other knowledge, we need to change the way in which rural health is currently constructed and understood.
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