Nursing Publications


How Do Registered Nurses Define Rurality?

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Australian Journal of Rural Health





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Objective: The objective of this analysis was to identify the meaning of rurality for registered nurses (RNs) practising in rural and remote Canada.

Setting and design: An existing Statistics Canada definition was used to stratify Canada's 10 provinces into urban and rural areas. As part of a national multi-method study, a random sample of RNs in these rural strata, plus all RNs working in outpost settings and northern territories, were surveyed concerning the nature of nursing practice. Content analysis was used to identify themes from an open-ended question: 'How do you define rural/remote?' Refinement of the themes was conducted by the survey team and credibility was supported through investigator triangulation.

Participants: Of the 3933 RNs who responded to the survey (68% response rate), 3412 provided a definition of rural/remote. A subsample of 1285 RNs was used for detailed thematic analysis because these respondents provided definitions with a clear referent to rural and/or to remote; the remaining sample was used for verification of themes.

Results: Four defining themes were identified by RNs for both rural and remote: community characteristics, geographical location, health human and technical resources, and nursing practice characteristics.

Conclusions: The themes can be used as content domains or dimensions of rurality to improve our understanding of how to describe rural communities, including geographical location and nursing practice, from the perspective of RNs.


Published in: Australian Journal of Rural Health, Volume 16 Issue 1, Pages 28 - 32. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1584.2007.00947.x