Rural women and pharmacologic therapy: needs and issues in rural Canada

Beverly D Leipert, Doreen Matsui, Jessica Wagner, Michael J Rieder
Canadian Journal of Rural Medicine 2008, 13 (4): 171-9

INTRODUCTION: The needs and issues of rural women regarding pharmacologic information and therapy are rarely explored. We sought to explore the needs and issues of rural women in Canada regarding drug-related information and prescription and nonprescription pharmaceuticals.

METHODS: We used the qualitative methodology of interpretive description. In-depth semistructured face-to-face interviews were conducted with 20 women aged 17-88 years who lived in rural southwestern Ontario.

RESULTS: Although rural women accessed prescription medications, complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) was highly favoured, and alcohol and illicit drugs such as marijuana, crystal meth and cocaine were prevalent in rural communities. Factors that affected rural women's decisions about which medications to use included access to health care practitioners, costs of medications, experiences of family members and friends with prescribed and alternative medications, attitudes and approaches of health care providers and health store employees, and the women's own expectations and desires. Factors that affected the use of illicit drugs included availability, boredom, peer pressure and cultural norms. Rural factors that influenced access to drug information and use included presence or lack of confidential care, distance to resources, and presence, accessibility and acceptability of rural resources.

CONCLUSION: Rural women use a variety of drug therapies and sources of information, and experience unique socioeconomic and environmental issues that affect access to appropriate drug-related information and therapies. Further research is needed to clarify and articulate pharmacologic needs, issues and solutions for women in diverse rural settings.

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