Toggle Main Menu Toggle Search

Open Access padlockePrints

Reconceptualising rural cancer inequalities: Time for a new research agenda

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Christina Dobson, Emeritus Professor Greg RubinORCiD, Professor Linda Sharp



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.Evidence has shown for over 20 years that patients residing in rural areas face poorer outcomes for cancer. The inequalities in survival that rural cancer patients face are observed throughout the developed world, yet this issue remains under‐examined and unexplained. There is evidence to suggest that rural patients are more likely to be diagnosed as a result of an emergency presentation and that rural patients may take longer to seek help for symptoms. However, research to date has been predominantly epidemiological, providing us with an understanding of what is occurring in these populations, yet failing to explain why. In this paper we outline the problems inherent in current research approaches to rural cancer inequalities, namely how ‘cancer symptoms’ are conceived of and examined, and the propensity towards a reductionist approach to rural environments and populations, which fails to account for their heterogeneity. We advocate for a revised rural cancer inequalities research agenda, built upon in‐depth, community‐based examinations of rural patients’ experiences across the cancer pathway, which takes into account both the micro and macro factors which exert influence on these experiences, in order to develop meaningful interventions to improve cancer outcomes for rural populations.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Dobson C, Rubin G, Murchie P, Macdonald S, Sharp L

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health

Year: 2020

Volume: 17

Issue: 4

Online publication date: 24/02/2020

Acceptance date: 18/02/2020

Date deposited: 09/03/2020

ISSN (print): 1661-7827

ISSN (electronic): 1660-4601

Publisher: MDPI AG


DOI: 10.3390/ijerph17041455

PubMed id: 32102462


Altmetrics provided by Altmetric