Issues in Rural Palliative Care: Views From the Countryside


  • We greatly appreciate grants received from the BC Medical Services Foundation and the BC Rural and Remote Health Research Network, funded by the Michael Smith Health Research Foundation, which supported this work. We also wish to thank Dr. Gillian Fyles and Ms. Sandra Broughton of the BC Cancer Agency Centre for the Southern Interior and Ms. Maurine Kahlke (research coordinator) for their contributions to this project. For further information, contact: Carole Robinson, Acting Associate Dean, Faculty of Health and Social Development, University of British Columbia Okanagan, 3333 University Way, Kelowna BC, Canada, V1V 1V7; e-mail


Context: Growing concern exists among health professionals over the dilemma of providing necessary health care for Canada's aging population. Hospice palliative services are an essential need in both urban and rural settings. Rural communities, in particular, are vulnerable to receiving inadequate services due to their geographic isolation.

Purpose: To better understand experiences and issues related to rural palliative care.

Methods: Focus groups were held for health professionals, family members and volunteers in 3 rural British Columbia communities. A coding schema was developed and the data were then thematically analyzed using a constant comparison technique.

Findings: Three themes in rural palliative care were established: nature of palliative health care services, nature of rural relationships, and competencies required for rural palliative care. Findings indicated that the diversity in rural communities requires tailored approaches to palliative care that consider the geographic, cultural and health aspects of residents in order to optimize care.

Conclusion: Tailored approaches to palliative care developed in conjunction with rural communities are needed in order to optimize care.