186185 Health experiences of women living in rural/frontier communities

Wednesday, October 29, 2008: 9:10 AM

Susan McCabe, EdD , Fay W. Whitney School of Nursing, University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY
Introduction: There are clear disparities in health status between women living in rural and urban parts of the country. These issues are magnified for women in rural frontier communities where access, acceptability of services, and health literacy concerns are rampant. This paper describes a study with women living in six rural frontier communities in Wyoming who participated in action research methods, including photovoice strategies, to articulate issues and increase understanding of the impact of rural frontier living on health.

Methods: This research used triangulated qualitative methods to increase understanding of the personal meaning of health experiences of women living in rural/frontier communities. The study explored the main health concerns of women living in rural/frontier communities, their perceived supports and barrier to health, and the impact of living in rural/frontier communities on women's access to care. Six focus groups from six remote communities in Wyoming including two community groups comprised of Native American women, one community group comprised of Hispanic women, two ranching communities, and one community recovering from a recent devastating tornado participated in this study.

Results: Rural frontier women experience enormous challenges to optimizing health, yet demonstrate enormous skills and resiliency as well. Not surprisingly issues of access and acceptability of resources were highlighted. Less anticipated was the anger woman felt at lack of available resources for mental health care and at lack of confidentiality of sensitive health information. Women demonstrated strong literacy skills in accessing health information and expressed strong capabilities to identify and advocate for perceived health needs.

Conclusions: Rural women are very capable of identifying needed services and supports to maximize health. The participants in this study were frustrated by inability to have a voice in policy and implementation of perceived needed services. This presentation will present a model, based on study findings, which will promote facilitation of empowerment and self-sufficiency of rural frontier women in attaining optimal health.

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe the use of triangulated community action research methods for the exploration of health experiences of frontier rural women 2. Identify the common health experiences themes of women living in six frontier rural communities 3. Discuss the policy and action implications of study findings in order to improve health of frontier rural women

Keywords: Rural Health Care, Women's Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been a certified psychiatric clinical specialist for over 15 years, and a nurse educator for 20 years. My expertise is in qualitative research and I am co-author of a nursing textbook about these methods.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.