Exploring mental health issues of rural senior women residing in southwestern Ontario, Canada: a secondary analysis photovoice study

Phaedra Panazzola, Beverly Leipert
Rural and Remote Health 2013, 13 (2): 2320

INTRODUCTION: There is inadequate knowledge regarding the prevalence, nature, and severity of mental health issues for rural senior women in Canada. Limited research has explored rural mental health, tending to focus on identifying mental illnesses that rural senior women (aged 65 years or older) experience and overlooking factors that contribute to mental health problems. Therefore, the focus of this research was to examine mental health issues of rural senior women and factors that negatively and/or positively affect their mental health.

METHODS: For this study, a secondary analysis technique was employed to re-analyze focus group, logbook, and pictorial data from a primary photovoice study. This secondary analysis study more specifically identified findings related to the mental health of rural senior women, such as mental health issues and factors that positively/negatively affected their mental health. The primary study explored general health promotion needs and resources of senior rural women.

RESULTS: Two main mental health issues were identified: loneliness and negative self-concept. Two factors were found to positively affect these women's mental health: social and community resources, and personal characteristics and resources. The two factors that negatively affected these women's mental health were found to be: inadequate resources and loss in community; and devaluing of rurality, ethnicity, and gender.

CONCLUSIONS: Study findings substantially contribute to the knowledge base regarding rural mental health by focusing on senior women and key factors in the rural context. Implications of this research are important for rural communities, practice and service delivery, and future research.

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