Inequalities in rural communities: adapting national deprivation indices for rural settings.
journal contributionposted on 05.07.2019, 13:24 by D Fecht, A Jones, T Hill, T Lindfield, R Thomson, AL Hansell, R Shukla
Background: Deprivation indices have been widely used in healthcare research and planning in the United Kingdom. Existing indices, however, are dominated by characteristics of urban populations that may be less relevant in capturing the nature of rural deprivation. We explore if deprivation indices can be modified to make them more sensitive to displaying rural disadvantage in England. Methods: The analysis focussed on the 2011 Carstairs Index (Carstairs2011) and the 2010 English Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD2010). We removed all urban areas as identified by the Office for National Statistics Rural-Urban Area Classifications and mapped the Carstairs2011 and IMD2010 across the remaining rural areas using rural-specific quintiles. Results: Our method was effective in displaying much greater heterogeneity in rural areas than was apparent in the original indices. We received positive feedback from Directors of Public Health who confirmed that the observed patterns mirror their experiences and first-hand knowledge on the ground. Conclusions: Our maps of Carstairs2011 and IMD2010 for rural areas might strengthen the evidence base for rural planning and service provision. The modified deprivation indices, however, were not specifically formulated for rural populations and further work is needed to explore alternative input variables to produce a more rural-specific measure of deprivation.