Country living is dangerous – New ABS Social Trends report

Sea changers and tree changers may well reconsider city life once they learn about the downsides of country and small town life, including higher fatality rates from heart attacks and traffic accidents.

In part, the higher fatality rates are related to poorer lifestyle choices among non-metropolitan people, who drink and smoke a lot more than people in metropolitan areas. But the higher fatality rates are also likely to be related to regional areas having less accessible health services, longer travelling distances and dangerous roads. The relevant statistics are in the new ABS Social Trends Report:

Health outcomes differ between those living outside major cities and those living within them. In 2008, people who lived outside major cities were more likely than people in major cities to die from certain causes. They were three times as likely to die from transport accidents, almost twice as likely to die from high blood pressure, 1.7 times as likely to die from heart failure and 1.6 times as likely to die from diabetes.

Contributing to poorer levels of health, people living outside major cities were more likely to be daily smokers (1.3 times as likely as their major city counterparts) or risky drinkers (1.3 times as likely). On the other side of the coin, they were also more likely than people in major cities to eat their fruit and veggies (1.5 times as likely to have met the national guidelines for fruit and vegetable consumption).

Different levels of access to, and use of, health services may also contribute to differing health outcomes. In 2009, people living in outer regional/remote areas of Australia were more likely than those living in major cities to have reported that they had waited longer than they felt was acceptable for a GP appointment (23% compared with 16%) and more likely to have gone to an emergency department because the waiting time for a GP appointment was too long (12% compared with 2%).

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