Fluctuations in non-resident populations (FIFO/DIDO) and use of rural and remote health services in Australia
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Purpose: Some rural/remote areas in Australia face combined challenges of limited resources and insufficient health care workers to cope with existing demands. In some regions, the local non-resident population increases dramatically with fly-in/fly-out and drive-in/drive-out (FIFO/DIDO) mining/seasonal workers and recreational visitors. However, little is known about the extent to which these populations put pressure on local health services. Methods: A rapid literature review was undertaken to define the size and scope of three groups (mining workers, seasonal workers and ‘grey nomads’) and investigate their impact on the use of rural health services. Findings: Non-resident workers and recreational grey nomads comprise over 25% of rural populations in some areas of Australia. Little empirical evidence is available on the impact of these populations on health services, although available data suggest demand is similar to that of permanent residents. Further, some data indicates that musculoskeletal injuries (mining and seasonal workers) and age-related conditions (grey nomads) are common. Discussion: Pressure on health services is exacerbated in some areas due to large and unpredictable fluctuations in FIFO/DIDO populations. Data on patients’ usual residence postcode could be used to quantify FIFO/DIDO populations; and inform planning and resource management in rural/remote health services.