Introduction: The purpose of this research was to validate a conceptual model for developing palliative care in rural communities. This model articulates how local rural healthcare providers develop palliative care services according to four sequential phases. The model has roots in concepts of community capacity development, evolves from collaborative, generalist rural practice, and utilizes existing health services infrastructure. It addresses how rural providers manage challenges, specifically those related to: lack of resources, minimal community understanding of palliative care, health professionals' resistance, the bureaucracy of the health system, and the obstacles of providing services in rural environments.
Methods: Seven semi-structured focus groups were conducted with interdisciplinary health providers in 7 rural communities in two Canadian provinces. Using a constant comparative analysis approach, focus group data were analyzed by examining participants' statements in relation to the model and comparing emerging themes in the development of rural palliative care to the elements of the model.
Results: The data validated the conceptual model as the model was able to theoretically predict and explain the experiences of the 7 rural communities that participated in the study. New emerging themes from the data elaborated existing elements in the model and informed the requirement for minor revisions.
Conclusion: The model was validated and slightly revised, as suggested by the data. The model was confirmed as being a useful theoretical tool for conceptualizing the development of rural palliative care that is applicable in diverse rural communities.