Determinants of rural women's health: a qualitative study in Southwest Ontario

Beverly D Leipert, Julie A George
Journal of Rural Health 2008, 24 (2): 210-8

CONTEXT: The influences of gender and geography are increasingly being acknowledged as central to a comprehensive understanding of health. Since little research on rural women's health has been conducted, an in-depth qualitative approach is necessary to gain a better initial understanding of this population.

PURPOSE: To explore the determinants of health and their influence on rural women's health.

METHODS: From November 2004 to September 2005, 9 focus groups and 3 individual interviews were conducted in 7 rural southwestern Ontario communities. Sixty-five rural residents aged 26 years and older participated in the study. Semi-structured interview questions were used to elicit participants' perceptions regarding determinants of rural women's health.

FINDINGS: Four Health Canada determinants (employment, gender, health services, and social environments) and 3 new determinants (rural change, rural culture, and rural pride) emerged as key to rural women's health.

CONCLUSIONS: Although health determinants affect both urban and rural people, this qualitative study revealed that rural women experience health determinants in unique ways and that rural residents may indeed have determinants of their health that are particular to them. More research is needed to explore the nature and effects of determinants of health for rural residents in general, and rural women in particular.

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