Rural Health


Photo of houses overlooking a bay.

The Research Exchange Group on Rural Health facilitates networking amongst researchers, graduate students, and policy makers who are interested in this particular area of applied health research. The group meets monthly to exchange information and ideas about research projects and proposals, potential sources of funding, and opportunities for training and knowledge exchange.

Group Activities & Presentations 


May 15, 2024 2:30PM NT | UArctic: Working collaboratively to create better lives and environments for all northerners|Memorial University is a member of the University of the Arctic (UArctic), a network of universities, colleges, research institutes, and other organizations concerned with education and research in and about the North. UArctic builds and strengthens collective resources and infrastructures that enable member institutions to better serve their constituents and their regions. Through cooperation in education, research, and outreach, UArctic enhances human capacity in the North, promotes viable communities and sustainable economies, and forges global partnerships. Created through the Arctic Council, UArctic is committed to upholding its principles of sustainable development as well as the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. UArctic is constituted as an international association based in Finland. Memorial University and UArctic are actively encouraging partnerships between Northern Canadian, and international UArctic members for collaborative research and education initiatives available through the Research and Engagement Fund. ( Please join us as Sheila Downer, Strategic Northern Liaison at Harris Centre’s COASTS (Cold Ocean Arctic Science Technology & Society) and Vice President of Northern Community Engagement at UArctic, tells us about how UArctic is working towards its mission to develop knowledge that will address local and global challenges of relevance to Arctic peoples and societies by providing unique educational, research, and innovation opportunities through collaboration within a powerful network of member institutions.


January 19, 2022 at 7:00pm NST | Rurality and Suicide in Ontario, Canada  with Dr. Rebecca Barry| This webinar will present the results of three studies on rurality and suicide in Ontario, Canada. The first is a population-based case-control study examining the relationship between rurality and attempted suicide and death by suicide using data held at ICES. This study was recently published in The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry. The second study examines help-seeking prior to a suicide attempt or death by suicide among those living in rural and urban areas. Finally, the third study examines the relationship between travel time to care and suicide. Together, these studies provide insight into how travel time to care and help-seeking may impact risk of suicide in the context of rurality. |Rebecca Barry is Postdoctoral fellow under the supervision of Dr. Dallas Seitz at the University of Calgary Cumming School of Medicine. She recently completed her PhD at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto. Her PhD supervisor was Dr. Paul Kurdyak. She is interested in mental health and rural and remote health.

Circumpolar perspectives on the COVID-19 Pandemic: Moving beyond the numbers|  Tuesday, September 21, 2021  LINK TO THE RECORDING |This webinar brought together public health leaders from Alaska, Canada, and Greenland to share their perspectives on regional experiences with the pandemic. The session looked “beyond the numbers” to better understand the social and health system challenges and successes in diverse Circumpolar contexts. Sponsored by International Union for Circumpolar Health.

Anders Koch, MD, PhD, MPH
Department of Infectious Diseases
Statens Serum Institut
Copenhagen, Denmark

Anne Zink, MD, FACEP
Chief Medical Officer
Alaska Department of Health and Social Services
Anchorage, Alaska

Wayne Clark, PhD
Executive Director, Indigenous Health Initiatives Program
Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry
University of Alberta
Edmonton, Alberta

Josee Lavoie, MA, PhD
Professor and Director
Ongomiizwin Research Indigenous Institute of Health and Healing
Max Rady College of Medicine
Community Health Sciences
University of Manitoba
Winnipeg, Manitoba

Jon Øyvind Odland
Professor, Department of Public Health and Nursing, Norwegian University of Science and Technology

Henrik L. Hansen, MD
Chief Medical Officer
Government of Greenland
Nuuk, Greenland

April 16, 2021 | “Talk to your Doctor - Stories of the Rural Physician in Newfoundland & Labrador" | Lindsay Webster and Daniel Rees, Filmmakers | Two medical students from Memorial's Faculty of Medicine set out in the summer of 2019 to make a documentary on what it’s like to be a rural physician. They crossed the province over 14 days and spoke to 11 doctors in nine communities, pulling back the curtain on the often challenging but rewarding career of the rural doctor. They spoke about rural health and healthcare the process of filmmaking to explore this important health topic. | Link to Documentary |

May 19, 2021 | COVID-19 research in Tłı̨chǫ Region | Katherine Fleury and Tyanna Steinwand | The quick onset of COVID-19 left countries and communities in need of emergency management procedures. Health policies and programs were implemented quickly and continuously updated as we learned more about the disease. However, to best serve a population, decision-makers must evaluate implemented health policies to recognize potential impacts on community members. This is especially true in northern and Indigenous communities where health systems have unique features to which they must adapt, including experiences relating to remote geographies, indigenous values, and health equity. Beneficial policy recommendations can be developed in the future by engaging in conversation with those affected by adaptations to health services.  The Tłı̨chǫ community of Behchokǫ̀ in the NWT was identified through research partnership as a community where a qualitative case study to understand these effects could be conducted safely. This project involved in-depth, semi-structured interviews with Elders, community members, and local Tłı̨chǫ policy and service delivery staff. Audio-recorded interviews were transcribed and analyzed to understand the scope of public engagement related to pandemic response, the perception of public health policies and how they were implemented, and how to improve policy and programs in the future. Primary content analysis revealed three themes, including: 1) A discrepancy between policy and Tłı̨chǫ way of life; 2) Uncertainty in the uptake of public health recommendations; 3) The strength and resiliency of community connection. Current policy development has utilized a top-down approach, with implementation being altered to ensure cultural relevancy. Moving forward, we must ensure that traditions are built into health policy. | Link to Presentation |

June 15, 2021 | The Rural Tax: Out-of-Pocket Costs for Non-Acute Patient Travel in British Columbia | Dr. Jude Kornelson, Associate Professor, Department of Family Practice, UBC, Co-Director, Centre for Rural Health Research | The need for rural patients to access specialist and procedural care outside of their home communities has increased in the past two decades, as health care delivery in most jurisdictions in Canada has gone through the process of regionalization, with health care planning and administration accountabilities distributed to varying types of regional authorities. This has led to the increased out of pocket costs to access health care, costs that are usually borne by patients and their families. This presentation discussed a retrospective survey data from rural BC to estimate and categorize rural patient travel costs across five domains: distance traveled and transportation costs, accommodation costs, co-traveler costs, lost wages, and patient stress. Findings were considered ‘through a rural lens’, privileging citizen-patient experience and questions of proportionate equity in access to healthcare in Canada. |


October 19, 2020 | Rural Family Physician Perspectives on Communication with Urban Specialists | Dr. Margo Wilson, Discipline of Emergency Medicine, Memorial University | Communication is a key competency for medical education and comprehensive patient care. This presentation included the results of a qualitative study that explored rural physicians’ perspectives on communication with urban specialists during consultations and referrals. | Link to Journal Article |

November 2, 2020 | Clinical Courage in Rural Generalist Physicians | Dr. Jill Konkin, Department of Family Medicine,University of Alberta and Dr. Lucie Walters, Director of University of Adelaide Rural Clinical School | Clinical courage is much talked about but there is very little in the literature about it. This presentation highlighted the results of an international study of clinical courage including the six key elements of clinical courage that arose from the narratives of the participants. | Link to Publication | Link to Presentation |

December 2, 2020 | Rural Health Ethics: Challenging the Status Quo? | Dr. Christy Simpson, Department of Bioethics, Dalhousie University | This talk provided an opportunity to reflect on some of the underlying (implicit) assumptions in health care ethics; ones that arguably leave out the perspective and context of rural health practice and rural life. In taking the opportunity to question these assumptions, the ethical richness and complexity of rural health practice can be highlighted. This includes the identification of additional, relevant values as well as a rethinking of the meaning and significance of overlapping professional and personal relationships. |


November 4, 2019 | Journey of Collaboration: Partnering with Indigenous Peoples to Co-Design Health and Wellness Programs and Services in Western Newfoundland & Labrador | Mariel Parcon, Regional Manager Research and Evaluation, Western Health | Western Health, in partnership with Qalipu First Nation, was successful in obtaining a Health Services Integration Fund (HSIF) grant for the project “Journey of Collaboration: Partnering with Indigenous people to develop an engagement strategy and implementation plan to co-design the health and wellness programs and services within Western NL”.  A project steering committee has been established to provide guidance for this project, which includes Western Health, Qalipu First Nation, Memorial’s Grenfell Campus, the Western Regional School of Nursing, and the Mi’kmaq community. The goal of all participants is to build upon Western Health’s Person and Family Centered Care (PFCC) strategy to include Indigenous voices in the planning and co-design of health and wellness programs and services in the region. | Link to Presentation | 

April 30, 2019 | Reducing the Incidence of Suicide among Indigenous Peoples Worldwide: Local Evidence for a Global Goal | Dr. Nathaniel Pollock, Division of Community Health and Humanities, Faculty of Medicine, Memorial University (graduate research presentation) | Suicide is a complex phenomenon that arises from a combination of biological, psychological, socio-economic, environmental, and historical factors. In Labrador, as in many regions across the circumpolar North, Indigenous communities have experienced elevated suicide rates for more than 30 years. In response, suicide prevention has become a leading public health priority for communities, healthy systems, and governments. This presentation discussed recent studies on suicide from a collaborative research project in Labrador that examined the incidence of suicide among Indigenous populations locally and globally. | Link to Presentation |

May 10, 2019 | Motherhood Experiences in Newfoundland & Labrador: A Survey to Inform Public Policy | Shannon Bedford and Emily Saunders | The presenters shared the results of a large survey of motherhood that was undertaken as their PsyD research project at Memorial, focused primarily on the experience of mothers here in the province. The survey looked at demographic differences between urban and rural mothers, mothers who have a partner who works away (mobile relationships), satisfaction with healthcare services, and other factors. Shannon presented a "demographic portrait" of motherhood here in the province that is intended to validate the lived experience of mothers in informing public policy. Emily co-presented the results of her analysis of those results related specifically to access to healthcare services. |


December 6, 2018 | NUNAFAM Family Medicine Residency | Lisa Grant, Project Manager; Samantha Hansford and Dr. Patrick Focault | NUNAFAM is a partnership between Memorial’s Discipline of Family Medicine and the Department of Health, Nunavut. The program was established to work towards a model of sustainable medical practice in order to improve access to primary care and therefore health outcomes for the population of Nunavut, 85% of whom are Inuit. Joining Lisa Grant for this informative talk were Samantha Hansford, a medical student who has just completed an elective in Nunavut who was able to speak to her student experience with the program and  Dr. Patrick Foucault, the Nunavut physician site lead/Director of Medical Education. | About NUNAFAM |  |

October 31, 2018 | Mental Wellness and Related Services Being Offered by the Nunatsiavut Department of Health and Social Development | Kaila deBoer, Director of Mental Wellness and Healing |


November 9, 2017 | Sparks of the Indigenous Health Initiative and the Healers of Tomorrow Camp Program for Health Professional Education | Dr. Carolyn Sturge | Link to Presentation |

March 27, 2017 | Research Ethics Project Discussion | Dr. Fern Brunger, Community Health and Humanities, BA (Hons) (University of Winnipeg), MA (McGill), PhD (McGill), Professor of Health Care Ethics |

March 20, 2017 | “Lament for the Land" | Dr. Ashlee Cunsolo, Director of Labrador Institute | The presenter spoke about her work on climate change and mental health, a documentary film that speaks to the importance of the land to Labrador Inuit peoples and the impact of climate change on their communities. |  Link to Video |


October 27, 2016 | How Muskrat Falls will Impact the Lake Melville Ecosystem and Inuit Who Depend on it for their Well-Being and the Compounding Impacts of a Changing Climate | Dr. Trevor Bell, Geography, Memorial University | Dr.Bell co-led a research project with Tom Sheldon, Director of the Environment Division at the Nunatsiavut Government that had been commissioned by the Nunatsiavut Government, the Labrador Inuit self-government body the results of which were reported to the Nunatsiavut Government in 2016. Dr. Bell shared the findings of this independent research, which was conducted by a team of expert scientists from Canada and the United States. | Link to Video | Link to 2016 ReportLink to Presentation |


October 16, 2015 | New Rural Health Initiatives in Southern Africa | Dr. Steve J. Reid, Director and Glaxo-Wellcome Chair of Primary Health Care University of Cape Town, and recipient of Memorial University?s Visiting Leader Award in Rural Medicine and Health | Link to Presentation | AFP:  | RUDASA:  | CHEER:  |


2013 | Innu Medical Glossary | Marguerite MacKenzie | Link to Presentation |

2013 | Access to Healthcare in Labrador | Gioia Montevecchi | Link to Presentation |

2013 | Maternal and Neonatal Obstetrical Outcomes | Dr. Kris Aubrey-Bassler | Link to Presentation |