Understanding Personal Health Decision Trade-offs of Older Women: Findings from a Pilot Study

Key Messages

  • Women 65+ years of age are at greater risk of having inadequate financial resources & are more vulnerable to living with illness & struggling with the associated costs of care.
  • Marital status & personal support networks affect a woman’s ability to meet her own health needs.
  • Our pilot study reveals that low-income, older women prioritize their health needs based on urgency; use a range of coping strategies to delay/reduce personal health costs; & may consult with care providers to identify more affordable health purchases.
  • Trade-offs women regularly make to meet their competing health & non-health needs can have both immediate & long-term health & financial consequences.
  • A community resource guide of affordable services & programs available, paired with a workbook to encourage thoughtful reflection on their own needs & health risks, may be a valuable, practical health education tool for older women.


“Women’s Perspectives on the Mountain Pine Beetle” Project


Final Report and Evaluation


March 28th – 29th, 2008.

University of Northern British Columbia



Vision/Goals for “Women’s Perspectives on the Mountain Pine Beetle” forum:


The “Women’s Perspectives on the Mountain Pine Beetle” forum provided a unique opportunity for women to focus their attention on an issue of

great importance in our province’s history – the Mountain Pine Beetle (MPB) epidemic. The gathering explored the social, economic and healthrelated

impacts through the eyes of women from beetle-affected communities in northern BC. The steering committee endeavoured to

provide a venue to gather the ‘situated knowledge’ of participants, to discuss specific concerns of women in the light of the MPB epidemic and

to hear what is happening from their various perspectives, how they have/have not been involved with decision-making around the MPB, what

issues are important to them and whether or not these issues are being addressed through current initiatives (e.g. funding programs). An

important goal was to begin the conversation and to identify action steps to address the impacts of the MPB on women, families and communities in

beetle-affected communities in BC.





A Framework for Women-Centred Health

    Vancouver / Richmond Health Board, June 2001. This guide was further developed by Robin Barnett, consultant to the Vancouver / Richmond Women's Health Planning Project Implementation Task Force


    On February 24, 2000, the Vancouver / Richmond Health Board (V/RHB) approved the use of the Framework for Women-Centred Health to guide its policies, programs, services and structures. The framework assists the V/RHB to improve the health of women by making women-centred approaches to health care a primary focus within the Vancouver / Richmond region.

    The Framework for Women-Centred Health consists of 12 elements:

             1. The need for respect and safety
             2. The importance of empowering women
             3. Involvement and participation of women
             4. Collaborative and inclusive work environments
             5. Women's patterns or preferences in obtaining health care
             6. Women's forms of communication and interaction
             7. The need for information
             8. Women's decision-making processes
             9. A gender-inclusive approach to data
            10. Gendered research and evaluation
            11. Gender-sensitive training
            12. Social justice concerns


Creating Solutions: Women Preventing FAS - Understanding Women's Substance Misuse

    By Chris Leischner, RSW, MSW as Principal Author and Valerie Johnson, Barbara Mallet, and Julie Sam as Participatory Researchers. Funding was provided by the British Columbia Health Research Foundation


    The search for a better understanding of how women recovery from substance misuse and thus prevent FAS, was the purpose of creating this participatory action research group. Initially, fourteen women and later their daughters explored the process of their own recovery and empowerment. They used Story-Dialogue methods to assist them in uncovering the source of their marginalization and to produce social action to claim their own voice and move towards helping other women through the process of “discovery.” What they found was that prevention of FAS requires that we begin in early childhood to prevent the trauma’s that drain young women of their ability to define themselves and avoid later mental health problems. With adequate mental health intervention and sustained family and community support, they discovered that recovery included the need for human service workers to redefine both recovery and their attitudes towards women self-medicating. They make recommendations for more women center treatment services and called on all policy makers and service provides to work beyond the confines of their limited mandates and begin more “upstream” prevention work in the area of women’s substance misuse.

The Determinants of Women's Health in Northern Rural and Remote Regions: Examples and Recommendations from Northern British Columbia  

    Prepared by the Northern Secretariat of the BC Centre of Excellence for Women's Health


Poverty Eradication and the Knowledge Society

    PowerPoint Presentation by Sophia Huyer, Executive Director, Gender Advisory Board, UN Commission on Science and Technology for Development, March 22, 2004


Out in the Cold: Barriers to health care for lesbians

    Undertaken by the Northern Secretariat of the BC Centre of Excellence for Women's Health

Critical Interventions: Medicalizing the lesbian body


    By Maria Hudspith (UBC) and Amber Perry (UNBC)


    Out in the Cold: Barriers to health care for lesbians was a participatory research project undertaken through the Northern Secretariat by a group of women based in both the community and the university. A report from this project is expected soon. As a background to the project, Research Associates provided the following critical discussions. The first deals with health care issues faced by lesbians generally, while the second sketches the social context for lesbians in the north, specifically in Prince George.


Spinning a Northern Web: Women Using Information and Communication Technology to Network For Health And Wellness

    By Christina McLennan, BSW, MSW

    Thesis Submitted In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Of Master of Social Work - University Of Northern British Columbia


    This case study explores women’s experiences using information and communication technology (ICT) to address women’s health concerns in northern, rural and remote communities in British Columbia. Incorporating features of collaborative, action research methodology, an online focus group structure was created for 12 women from across northern BC to interact with one another and undertake internet-based activities.

    The setting for the study was the primarily internet-based Women North Network (WNN) which, within a health promotion framework, seeks to build community by strengthening connections between women across the North and supports information sharing, action and the development of joint social and health-related research and policy initiatives. The WNN utilizes ICT as a means to overcome geographic isolation through the online components of email, a publicly accessible website and a password protected Online Gathering Space supported through WebCT – a distributive learning tool used to provide post-secondary off-campus education. Through their experience using the WNN online components, study participants offer an understanding of what is practical and meaningful for women using ICT and provide an account of what supports and prevents their access to and participation in the WNN.

    Findings suggest that through encountering supportive relationships which build a sense of community leading to concrete action women will become engaged in using ICT. Increased access to up-to-date computers, high-speed internet and the skills to use them effectively are also essential. Findings further suggest that by embracing the power of ICT and networks such as the WNN, social work and other health promotion professions will have greater ability to include diverse communities in influencing and developing social and health policy and service delivery in northern, rural and remote communities.