Health check-up for rural SA… well, blood pressure is up a bit

Blood pressure monitorIn the largest health survey ever conducted of regional South Australia, UniSA’s Department of Rural Health has found that people in the region may have a poorer state of health and wellbeing than their city compatriots.

Data from almost 4000 respondents, show that country people may have more problems with high cholesterol, poor sleep, high blood pressure and allergies.

Senior research fellow at UniSA and lead investigator for the project, Dr Matthew Leach, says the results suggest that a health gap between people living in rural and regional SA and those living in the city seems to exist.

“People on the Limestone Coast reported a poorer level of overall health and wellbeing with relatively higher rates of high blood pressure, depression, anxiety, elevated cholesterol levels, allergies and sleeping disorders than people living in metropolitan SA,” Dr Leach says.

“But it is not all doom and gloom. Overall, while they could be eating more fruits and vegetables to improve their diet, people in the Limestone Coast appear to be more likely to engage in physical activity and less likely to smoke or drink alcohol at risky levels than their metropolitan counterparts.

“Those factors help to provide some protection against chronic diseases – so that is good news.”

Dr Leach says there are relatively high rates of health care utilisation (including GPs, pharmacists, dentists, massage therapists and chiropractors) in the Limestone Coast compared with metropolitan SA.

“But despite the high level of health care use, about half of people surveyed in the Limestone Coast felt they were unable to access health care services when they felt it was needed – primarily because of distance and cost.

“What this suggests is that there is unmet health care need in the region.”

For more information about the survey results, please contact Dr Matthew Leach at matthew.leach@unisa.edu.au

Media contact: Michèle Nardelli mobile 0418 823 673 email michele.nardelli@unisa.edu.au

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