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Changing access to health services for rural women

21 October 2011 - 2:14pm

Women in regional and remote areas generally have poorer health and a higher risk of lifestyle diseases than their city-dwelling counterparts, a new study by Women's Health Australia has found.

The Rural, remote and regional differences in women's health report is part of the ongoing Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health - a collaboration between University of Queensland and University of Newcastle. The study has examined the health of more than 40,000 young, middle-aged and older women since 1996, conducting five surveys over the course of 15 years.

The study found that there the further women were from major cities, the more likely they were to suffer from obesity and the obesity-related conditions of diabetes and hypertension.

The report took into consideration not only access to GPs and medical specialists, but also complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) - all of which may be covered by private health insurance.

It was found that CAM practitioners were almost just as common as conventional medical services in regional and remote areas, and were accessed just as frequently.

Some private health funds offer cover for complementary and alternative medicines such as naturopathy and acupuncture, as well as weight management programs. Private health insurance may also be able to assist those living in regional areas who may be faced with increased medical costs.