Background: The purpose of the study is to explore the reasons why specialist doctors travel to provide regular rural outreach services, and whether reasons relate to (1) salaried or private fee-for-service practice and (2) providing rural outreach services in more remote locations. Methods: A national cross-sectional study of specialist doctors from the Medicine in Australia: Balancing Employment and Life (MABEL) survey in 2014 was implemented. Specialists providing rural outreach services self-reported on a 5-point scale their level of agreement with five reasons for participating. Chi-squared analysis tested association between agreement and variables of interest. Results: Of 567 specialists undertaking rural outreach services, reasons for participating include to grow the practice (54%), maintain a regional connection (26%), provide complex healthcare (18%), healthcare for disadvantaged people (12%) and support rural staff (6%). Salaried specialists more commonly participated to grow the practice compared with specialists in fee-for-service practice (68 vs 49%). This reason was also related to travelling further and providing outreach services in outer regional/remote locations. Private fee-for-service specialists more commonly undertook outreach services to provide complex healthcare (22 vs 14%). Conclusions: Specialist doctors undertake rural outreach services for a range of reasons, mainly to complement the growth and diversity of their main practice or maintain a regional connection. Structuring rural outreach around the specialist’s main practice is likely to support participation and improve service distribution.
- specialist doctor