People in regional areas travel further to access health services following transport-related major trauma

Ms Jemma Keeves1,2, Prof Belinda Gabbe1, Dr Christina Ekegren1, Dr Richard Fry3, Dr Ben Beck1

1Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia, 2Department of Physiotherapy, Epworth Hospital, Hawthorn, Australia, 3Swansea University Medical School, Swansea, United Kingdom

Aim: To explore regional variation in the distances travelled to access health services and patterns of health service utilisation three years following transport-related major trauma.

Design: Registry-based cohort study

Methods:  Victorians who sustained transport-related major trauma from 2006-2016 were identified using linked data from the Victorian State Trauma Registry and the Transport Accident Commission. Geospatial mapping of the median distance travelled for each service category by Local Government Area (LGA) was completed to explore regional variation.

Results: 6564 participants were included in this study. In the first three years post-discharge, 77% of participants visited other medical professionals, 76% saw a general practitioner (GP), 67% attended a physical therapy service (physiotherapy, exercise physiology or hydrotherapy), 35% accessed mental health services and 33% saw an occupational therapist (OT). People in regional LGAs travelled further than people in urban LGAs to access GP (median: 6km v 4km), medical (median: 87km v 14m), physical therapy (median: 11km v 7km), mental health (median: 24km v 11km) and OT (median 53km v 17km) services.

Conclusion: Distances travelled to access health services vary across geographic regions and may result in an increased travel burden for people in some regional LGAs. Understanding regional gaps in health services may help to improve service availability and highlight the importance of alternate service delivery models, e.g. telehealth, to reduce the burden of travel for people in regional areas.


Jemma is a Senior Physiotherapist at Epworth Rehabilitation Hospital in Melbourne. She has over nine years of experience working across inpatient and outpatient trauma teams. Jemma combines her clinical work with research and is also currently completing her PhD through Monash University exploring the geographic variation in access to healthcare and recovery following traumatic injury.

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