Rural Chronic Ill Health

Research Overview

This program of work investigates a range of chronic health issues impacting rural Victorians, with the overarching aim of identifying ways to reduce the burden of chronic ill health on rural communities. Many chronic diseases are more prevalent in rural areas than metropolitan areas, due in part to increased rates of risk factors, poor health behaviours and increased population age. In addition, access to healthcare for chronic disease management, particularly specialist care, can be restricted in rural areas compared with metropolitan areas.

Some of the projects being undertaken by this research group investigate differences in the prevalence and management of chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, obesity, chronic kidney disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease between rural and metropolitan Victoria.

Our group has recently completed the Crossroads II project which assessed health, disease and access to health care in the Goulburn Valley. Crossroads II was a large-scale study funded by the NHMRC in partnership with local health services and local government organisations.

Other projects explore the 'Patient Journey' experienced by a person as they incorporate a diagnosis of a chronic condition into their lives. Another project focusses on access to a range of health services in rural Victoria, which may be restricted by a range of factors including geographical distance, cost, waiting time or degree of 'fit' between the service and the consumer.


Dr. Rebecca Disler, Senior Research Fellow

Dr. Kristen Glenister, Research Fellow

Professor Lisa Bourke Director University Department of Rural Health

Professor Julian Wright Professor of Medicine; Head, Department of Rural Health; Director of Medical Student Education


Dr Anna Moran, Research Coordinator - Rural Health Academic Network - Albury Wodonga Health

Dr Tegan Podubinski, Research Fellow

Professor David Simmons, Honorary, Dept of Rural Health

Associate Professor Leslie Bolitho


The following projects were undertaken in partnership with local health services through the Department’s Rural Health Academic Network; a team of researchers based in small health services working to support education and build research, undertaking a range of evaluations, service development projects and supporting the rural health workforce in research and professional development.

  • Northeast Health Wangaratta, Albury Wodonga Health, Numurkah District Health, Murray Primary Health Network Projects that aim to improve care for people living with COPD, heart failure and type 2 diabetes in regional areas.
  • Albury Wodonga Health Strictly Come Dancing with Parkinson's – a mixed methods study to identify and address mechanisms required to effectively deliver and sustain an evidence-based dance class to persons with Parkinson's Disease in regional and rural areas. Albury Wodonga Health is also a key partner in the Healthy Brain Ageing in Chronic Lung Disease study exploring the management of lung disease in the context of cognitive change.
  • Bendigo Health: Key partner in projects to improve care in end stage chronic disease
  • Melbourne Health: Projects aimed at management of COPD as well as palliative care in chronic disease
  • Goulburn Valley Health An evaluation of the model of care implemented at Goulburn Valley Health Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (GVH CAMHS)


This research has been supported by

  • The Australian Government Department of Health's Rural Health Multidisciplinary Training Program.
  • National Health and Medical Research Council
  • Murray Primary Health Network

Research Publications


Glenister K, Bourke L, Terry D, Simmons D. Chronic ill health in a regional Victoria setting: A 13‐year comparison. Aust. J. Rural Health. 2019;00:1–8.

Disler, R. T., Spiliopoulos, N., Inglis, S. C., Currow, D. C., & Davidson, P. M. (2018). Cognitive screening in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: patient’s perspectives. Disability and rehabilitation, 1-7.

Glenister K, Disler R, Hulme-Chambers A, Macharia D, Wright J. (2019) The mosaic of general practice bulk billing in regional Victoria. Australian Journal of General Practice 48 (1-2), 77-78

Malatzky, C., & Glenister, K. (2019). Talking about overweight and obesity in rural Australian general practice. Health and Social Care in the Community, 27(3), 599-608. doi:10.1111/hsc.12672

Janjua, S., Threapleton, C. J. D., Prigmore, S., & Disler, R. T. (2019). Digital interventions for the management of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 2019(1). doi:10.1002/14651858.CD013246

Terry, D. R., Nguyen, H., Kim, J. A., & Islam, M. R. (2019). Factors contributing to COPD hospitalisations from 2010 to 2015: Variation among rural and metropolitan Australians. Clinical Respiratory Journal, 13(5), 306-313. doi:10.1111/crj.13012


Disler, R. T., Spiliopoulos, N., Inglis, S. C., Currow, D. C., & Davidson, P. M. (2018). Cognitive screening in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: patient’s perspectives. Disability and rehabilitation, 1-7.

Janjua, S., Threapleton, C. J., Prigmore, S., & Disler, R. T. (2018). Telehealthcare for remote monitoring and consultations for people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, (11).

Disler, R. T., Inglis, S. C., Newton, P., Currow, D. C., Macdonald, P. S., Glanville, A. R., . . . Davidson, P. M. (2018). Older Patients' Perspectives of Online Health Approaches in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. Telemedicine and E-Health, 7 pages. doi:10.1089/tmj.2018.0098

Glenister KM, Bourke L, Bolitho L, Wright S, Roberts S, Kemp W, Rhode L, Bhat R, Tremper S, Magliano DJ, Morgan M, Marino R, Adam W, Simmons D. (2018) Longitudinal study of health, disease and access to care in rural Victoria: the Crossroads-II study: methods. BMC Public Health 2018 18:670.

Malatzky, C., Terry, D., Bourke, L., Glenister, K., & Ervin, K. (2018). Competing food consumption discourses and proper gendered behaviour among over 50s: are you really what you eat?. Journal of Research for Consumers, (32), 1-31. Retrieved from

Malatzky, C., & Glenister, K. (2018). Talking about overweight and obesity in rural Australian general practice. Health and Social Care in the Community. doi:10.1111/hsc.12672

Glenister, K., Opie, C. A., & Wright, J. (2018). Preferred language regarding overweight and obesity in general practice: a survey of predominantly rural Australian adults. Australian Journal of Primary Health, 24(5), 391-397. doi:10.1071/PY18023

Wright, J., Glenister, K. M., Thwaites, R., & Terry, D. (2018). The importance of adequate referrals for chronic kidney disease. Aust J Gen Pract, 47(1-2), 58-62. Retrieved from


Luckett, T., Phillips, J., Johnson, M., Garcia, M., Bhattarai, P., Carrieri-Kohlman, V., Hutchinson, A., Disler, R.T., Currow, D., Agar, M. and Ivynian, S., 2017. Insights from Australians with respiratory disease living in the community with experience of self-managing through an emergency department ‘near miss’ for breathlessness: a strengths-based qualitative study. BMJ open7(12), p.e017536.

Smith, T. A., Disler, R. T., Jenkins, C. R., Ingham, J. M., & Davidson, P. M. (2017). Perspectives on advance care planning among patients recently requiring non-invasive ventilation for acute respiratory failure: a qualitative study using thematic analysis. Palliative medicine31(6), 566-574.

Haines, Helen M., Cynthia Opie, David Pierce and Lisa Bourke (2017). Notwithstanding High Prevalence of Overweight and Obesity, Smoking Remains the Most Important Factor in Poor Self-rated Health and Hospital Use in an Australian Regional Community. AIMS Public Health, 4(4): 402-417.

Opie, C. A., Haines, H. M., Ervin, K. E., Glenister, K., & Pierce, D. (2017). Why Australia needs to define obesity as a chronic condition. BMC Public Health, 17, 4 pages. doi:10.1186/s12889-017-4434-1

Smith, T.A., R.T. Disler, C.R. Jenkins, J.M. Ingham and P.M. Davidson (2017) Perspectives on advance care planning among patients recently requiring non-invasive ventilation for acute respiratory failure: A qualitative study using thematic analysis. Palliative Medicine, 31(6), 566-574. doi:10.1177/0269216316670286.

Crouch, A., Ervin, K., Glenister, K., Terry, D., & Bourke, L. (2017). Heterogeneity of Rural Consumer Perceptions of Health Service Access Across Four Regions of Victoria. Journal of Rural Social Sciences, 32(2), 125-145.

Glenister, K. M., Malatzky, C. A. R., & Wright, J. (2017). Barriers to effective conversations regarding overweight and obesity in regional Victoria. Australian Family Physician, 46(10), 769-773. Retrieved from

Caygill, R., Peardon, M., Waite, C., & Wright, J. (2017). Comparing a longitudinal integrated clerkship with traditional hospital-based rotations in a rural setting. Medical Teacher, 39(5), 520-526. doi:10.1080/0142159X.2017.1297893

Caygill, R., Peardon, M., Waite, C., McIntyre, I., Bradley, D., & Wright, J. (2017). Attitudes towards peer review of teaching in medical education. Focus on health professional education - A multidisciplinary journal, 18(2), 47-60. doi:10.11157/fohpe.v18i2.224


Ranson, N. E., Terry, D. R., Glenister, K., Adam, B. R., & Wright, J. (2016). Integrated and consumer-directed care: a necessary paradigm shift for rural chronic ill health. Australian Journal of Primary Health, 22(3), 176-180. doi:10.1071/PY15056


Ervin K, Pallant J, Terry DR, Bourke L, Pierce D, Glenister K. A Descriptive Study of Health, Lifestyle and Sociodemographic Characteristics and their Relationship to Known Dementia Risk Factors in Rural Victorian Communities. AIMS Medical Science. 2015 2(3):246.

Terry DR, Glenister K, Kilmartin J, Kilmartin G, Sands R, Fowler F, Wright J. Glycaemic Control among Rural Health Consumers: A Retrospective Study of a Diabetes Center. Advances in Diabetes and Metabolism. 2015 3(2), 11-15.

Research Projects

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact Project Leader Rebecca Disler

Department / Centre

Rural Health

Unit / Centre

Rural Chronic Ill Health

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