Northern women: Tough enough

January 31, 2005

When it comes to handling isolation, limited resources and unending months of bitter cold, it really is a case of mind over matter, as women living in the frozen North already know. A study done by a University of Alberta PhD student shows that women living in isolated Northern settings teach themselves--and each other--how to be hardy and resilient, as a way to safeguard their health.

"Taking a positive attitude gave women hope and encouragement to carry on in difficult circumstances," said Dr. Beverly Leipert, who conducted the research to earn her doctorate in Nursing at the University of Alberta. Results of the study are published in the January issue of Qualitative Health Research.

Leipert interviewed 25 women of diverse ages and backgrounds living in northern British Columbia, and discovered that, while their mental and physical health was vulnerable to risks posed by wildlife, pollution, gender attitudes, limited resources and of course, climate, they learn to cope through three major strategies: becoming hardy, making the best of the North and supplementing the North.

This involved a wide variety of actions on the part of the women, including learning to become self-reliant, following spiritual beliefs, adopting outdoor activities of skiing, fishing and camping, moving indoors to paint and quilt, volunteering on community councils and with other groups, and advocating for themselves and their communities. They also sought social support from one another, even though women-only gatherings were seen as threatening in some communities.

"Developing resilience, which is central to Northern women's health, involves developing new strategies and enhancing existing ones that are both behavioral and psychological in nature," Dr. Leipert said.

The nature of resilience and the degree to which Northern women develop it is influenced by factors such as women's economic circumstances, how isolated they are, their state of health and their needs, the resources available to them, and their educational and cultural backgrounds, Dr. Leipert noted.

The study also showed that some of the needs arising from these factors are beyond the woman's capacity to address. "It is important that society and governments provide adequate resources to support the efforts and health of women in Northern and other isolated settings," Dr. Leipert said.
-end-
The study's findings will help friends, families, health-care givers, policymakers and the women themselves, to understand and address risks to the well-being of rural women, Leipert said.

For more information on this study contact:

Bev Betkowski
Public Affairs Officer
University of Alberta
780-492-3808
beverly.betkowski@ualberta.ca

University of Alberta

Related Health Articles from Brightsurf:

The mental health impact of pandemics for front line health care staff
New research shows the impact that pandemics have on the mental health of front-line health care staff.

Modifiable health risks linked to more than $730 billion in US health care costs
Modifiable health risks, such as obesity, high blood pressure, and smoking, were linked to over $730 billion in health care spending in the US in 2016, according to a study published in The Lancet Public Health.

New measure of social determinants of health may improve cardiovascular health assessment
The authors of this study developed a single risk score derived from multiple social determinants of health that predicts county-level cardiovascular disease mortality.

BU study: High deductible health plans are widening racial health gaps
The growing Black Lives Matter movement has brought more attention to the myriad structures that reinforce racial inequities, in everything from policing to hiring to maternal mortality.

Electronic health information exchange improves public health disease reporting
Disease tracking is an important area of focus for health departments in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

E-health resource improves men's health behaviours with or without fitness facilities
Men who regularly used a free web resource made significantly more health changes than men who did not, finds a new study from the University of British Columbia and Intensions Consulting.

Mental health outcomes among health care workers during COVID-19 pandemic in Italy
Symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety and insomnia among health care workers in Italy during the COVID-19 pandemic are reported in this observational study.

Mental health of health care workers in china in hospitals with patients with COVID-19
This survey study of almost 1,300 health care workers in China at 34 hospitals equipped with fever clinics or wards for patients with COVID-19 reports on their mental health outcomes, including symptoms of depression, anxiety, insomnia and distress.

Health records pin broad set of health risks on genetic premutation
Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Marshfield Clinic have found that there may be a much broader health risk to carriers of the FMR1 premutation, with potentially dozens of clinical conditions that can be ascribed directly to carrying it.

Attitudes about health affect how older adults engage with negative health news
To get older adults to pay attention to important health information, preface it with the good news about their health.

Read More: Health News and Health Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.