What is rural adversity, how does it affect wellbeing and what are the implications for action?

Joanne Lawrence-Bourne, Hazel Dalton, David Perkins, Jane Farmer, Georgina Luscombe, Nelly Oelke, Nasser Bagheri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


A growing body of literature recognises the profound impact of adversity on mental health outcomes for people living in rural and remote areas. With the cumulative effects of persistent drought, record-breaking bushfires, limited access to quality health services, the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing economic and social challenges, there is much to understand about the impact of adversity on mental health and wellbeing in rural populations. In this conceptual paper, we aim to review and adapt our existing understanding of rural adversity. We undertook a wide-ranging review of the literature, sought insights from multiple disciplines and critically developed our findings with an expert disciplinary group from across Australia. We propose that rural adversity be understood using a rural ecosystem lens to develop greater clarity around the dimensions and experiences of adversity, and to help identify the opportunities for interventions. We put forward a dynamic conceptual model of the impact of rural adversity on mental health and wellbeing, and close with a discussion of the implications for policy and practice. Whilst this paper has been written from an Australian perspective, it has implications for rural communities internationally.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7205
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number19
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2020
Externally publishedYes


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