Revisiting rural healthcare access through Held's ethics of care

Claire Quilliam, Kristen Glenister, Kaye Ervin, Jennifer Weller-Newton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Access to healthcare and health seeking behaviours of rural people often hinge on the existing relationships between healthcare providers and (prospective) healthcare users. However, rich micro-level health professional-healthcare user relationships and the unique relational context of rural settings are largely missing from dominant rural healthcare access conceptual frameworks. We argue rural healthcare access conceptualisations require revisiting from a relational perspective to ensure future healthcare access policy accounts for the relational nature of healthcare in rural contexts. Ethics of care is a moral theory informed by feminism which rejects liberal individualist notions and emphasises interdependence. We used Held’s ethics of care characteristics to examine Russell and colleagues’ healthcare access framework and dimensions for rural and remote populations. This process revealed Held’s ethics of care characteristics are only somewhat evident across Russell et al.’s dimensions: most evident in the acceptability and accommodation dimensions, and most absent in the availability and affordability dimensions. Future rural healthcare access frameworks need to pay further attention to the relational aspects of rural healthcare, particularly around the availability and affordability of healthcare, to bolster future efforts to improve healthcare access for rural people.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)178-193
Number of pages16
JournalSocial Theory and Health
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - May 2022
Externally publishedYes


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