Health Service Implementation and Antifragile Characteristics: A Dirt Research Approach

Petrie S & PA Peters. (2023) “Health Service Implementation and Antifragile Characteristics in Rural Communities: A Dirt Research Approach.” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 20(14): 6418.


The implementation of health and care services within rural communities requires necessary sensitivity to the unique facets of rural places. Often, rural service implementation is executed with inappropriate frameworks based on assumptions derived from urban centres. To understand the characteristics of rural communities that can facilitate successful program implementation better, ethnographic accounts of rural health and care services were compiled in rural communities within Canada, Australia, and Iceland. Ethnographic accounts are presented in the first and third person, with an accompanying reflexive analysis immediately following these accounts. Antifragility was the guiding concept of interest when investigating rural implementation environments, a concept that posits that a system can gain stability from uncertainty rather than lose integrity. These ethnographic accounts provide evidence of antifragile operators such as optionality, hybrid leadership, starting small, nonlinear evaluation, and avoiding suboptimisation. It is shown that the integration of these antifragile operators allows programs to function better in complex rural systems. Further, the presence of capable individuals with sufficient knowledge in several disciplines and with depth in a single discipline allows for innovative local thinking initiatives.

Keywords: rural health; health services; ethnography; electronic health; place-based health; antifragility