Objective To compare the processes and outcomes of care in patients who had a stroke treated in urban versus rural hospitals in Australia. Design Observational study using data from a multicentre national registry. Setting Data from 50 acute care hospitals in Australia (25 urban, 25 rural) which participated in the Australian Stroke Clinical Registry during the period 2010-2015. Participants Patients were divided into two groups (urban, rural) according to the Australian Standard Geographical Classification Remoteness Area classification. Data pertaining to 28 115 patients who had a stroke were analysed, of whom 8159 (29%) were admitted to hospitals located within rural areas. Primary and secondary outcome measures Regional differences in processes of care (admission to a stroke unit, thrombolysis for ischaemic stroke, discharge on antihypertensive medication and provision of a care plan), and survival analyses up to 180 days and health-related quality of life at 90-180 days. Results Compared with those admitted to urban hospitals, patients in rural hospitals less often received thrombolysis (urban 12.7% vs rural 7.5%, p<0.001) or received treatment in stroke units (urban 82.2% vs rural 76.5%, p<0.001), and fewer were discharged with a care plan (urban 61.3% vs rural 44.7%, p<0.001). No significant differences were found in terms of survival or overall self-reported quality of life. Conclusions Rural access to recommended components of acute stroke care was comparatively poorer; however, this did not appear to impact health outcomes at approximately 6 months.
- accident & emergency medicine
- organisation of health services
- quality in health care
- stroke medicine