“The first port of call is always the doctor”: general practitioner roles in addressing social inclusion

Julaine M Allan, Patrick Ball and Margaret M Alston
Med J Aust 2009; 191 (2): . || doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.2009.tb02703.x
Published online: 20 July 2009

To the Editor: Our recent study of disadvantaged rural residents’ perceptions of and experiences with health care highlighted the critically important role of general practitioners in delivering rural health care. In stage two of the study, assessing rural health and welfare needs,1 we sought out research participants who depended on income from government payments. Interviews identified that most participants and their family members had multiple chronic health concerns and relied on GPs as their local accessible health care providers for acute and ongoing treatment. As one participant noted, “the first port of call is always the doctor”, regardless of the circumstances.

  • 1 Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga, NSW.
  • 2 Monash University, Melbourne, VIC.


  • 1. Allan J, Ball P, Alston M. Developing sustainable models of rural health care: a community development approach. Rural Remote Health [Internet] 2007; 7: 818. Epub 2007 Dec 7.
  • 2. Begg SJ, Vos T, Barker B, et al. Burden of disease and injury in Australia in the new millennium: measuring health loss from diseases, injuries and risk factors. Med J Aust 2008; 188: 36-40. <MJA full text>
  • 3. Leeder SR. Achieving equity in the Australian healthcare system. Med J Aust 2003; 179: 475-478. <MJA full text>
  • 4. Vinson T. The origins, meaning, definition and economic implications of the concept social inclusion/exclusion: incorporating the core indicators developed by the European Union and other illustrative indicators that could identify and monitor social exclusion in Australia. Canberra: Australian Government Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, 2009: 5, 7, 15. cations.pdf (accessed Jun 2009).


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