Renewal and Expansion of the Rural Birth Index (RBI)


What is the Rural Birth Index?

The Rural Birth Index (2009) is a population-isolation-based score, intended to estimate/predict the appropriate level of maternity service for a given rural population in BC, in the form of a composite birth index.

Research Team

  • Principal Investigators:  Jude Kornelsen and Stefan Grzybowski
  • Research Coordinator: Nicky Cairncross

Who are we?

We are a team of researchers at the Centre for Rural Health Research at the University of British Columbia dedicated to informing the policy and planning of maternal health services for rural residents of British Columbia.

Current Project

The recalculation of the RBI score will help us determine what level of maternity care should be provided to a rural community to optimally meet population need with respect to health outcomes and service sustainability.

In addition to the recalculation of maternal health service needs we hope to develop a multidimensional risk profile unique to a select group of BC communities  to determine the community characteristics that can safely support maternity care provided by primary care providers without local access to caesarean section.

Meet Nicky Cairncross

Nicky Cairncross is the Coordinator for the Rural Birth Index (RBI) project. Nicky holds a Master of Public (MPH) with a specialization in social inequities in health from Simon Fraser University. Prior to her MPH she worked as a Complex Behaviour Support Counselor supporting families with children diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). Her near decade of experience in children and family support work helped her develop her passion for community engagement and capacity building. With experience in health policy, evaluation, and community engagement she is looking forward to combining her knowledge and passion for healthy maternal and childhood development into policy and practise for rural communities. When Nicky isn’t at work you can find her doing crossword puzzles at her favourite cafe, jigsaw puzzles at home, or playing bike polo!


Key Project Publication

Grzybowski, S., Kornelsen, J., & Schuurman, N. (2009). Planning the optimal level of local maternity service for small rural communities: A systems study in British Columbia. Health Policy, 92 (2-3), 149-157.

Other Project Update

The Rural Birth Index has been validated for use in rural British Columbia. Collaborators in Australia are adapting the model as an Australian Rural Birth Index (ARBI).

Kildea, S., & Sratigos, S. (2010). Rural Birth Index for Australia? Australian Journal of Rural Health, 18 (2), 85-86.