Background: This paper explores how community participation can be used in designing rural primary healthcare services by describing a study of Scottish communities. Community participation is extolled in healthcare policy as useful in planning services and is understood as particularly relevant in rural settings, partly due to high social capital. Literature describes many community participation methods, but lacks discussion of outcomes relevant to health system reconfiguration. There is a spectrum of ideas in the literature on how to design services, from top-down standard models to contextual plans arising from population health planning that incorporates community participation. This paper addresses an evidence gap about the outcomes of using community participation in (re)designing rural community health services.