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CIHI’s Rural Health Systems Model includes a set of key contextual factors that affect population health, health needs, system use and health system performance in rural areas.

You should consider these factors when doing planning, performance management or peer selection for rural health systems or regions.

The model is divided into 3 parts: Geography (referring to geographic distance), Population (referring to the size and density of the population) and Health system and community context.

For geographic distance from a major centre, the model suggests that you consider travel time, cost and availability.

For population size and density, the model suggests that you consider the population’s age and sex structure; whether there is population fluctuation; the presence and influence of language, culture, ethnicity and religion; the presence of industry; and socio-economic status.

The model also describes factors that are part of the larger health system and community context. These factors include infrastructure; partnerships and community readiness; service delivery models; innovation and learning capacity; leadership and governance; and resource models and allocation.

As you consider these factors, you should also look for meaningful interactions between 2 or more of the factors in the model.

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