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Rural rights

Researcher examining rural healthcare issues

 
By Jeff Green

Dr. Jill Allison wants to hear from people living in rural parts of the province about their access to healthcare.

The Memorial University postdoctoral fellow will be visiting rural communities over the coming weeks, speaking one-on-one with residents about issues such as the barriers they face in gaining access to care, what problems people face with respect to confidentiality in smaller communities and what kinds of medical technology people feel they should be able to access.

Dr. Allison will also be speaking with healthcare practitioners and community leaders.

“I will be travelling to a number of communities across the province in order to cover a broad range of issues and factors that might help me create a social picture of the concept of healthcare in rural Newfoundland and Labrador,” said Dr. Allison, a former nurse, who obtained both her master of arts and PhD in anthropology from Memorial, and is also a lecturer at the university.

She is planning to visit Bell Island, Trepassey, Burin, Bonavista, Lewisporte, Flower’s Cove and Cartwright in the coming weeks. She is also hoping to travel to Grey River and Francois.

Dr. Allison said her goal is to speak with as many people as possible in communities and from a variety of backgrounds – people who can offer her a blend of opinions. She is looking to hear from men, women, young, old, the sick and healthy regarding their healthcare experiences.

“I will be conducting individual confidential interviews in the communities over the course of the summer,” Dr. Allison noted.

“I am trying to preserve confidentiality by keeping participation in the project as private as possible. I will be conducting focus groups in communities if people would like to participate this way. I will be putting together a schedule in the coming weeks but people can contact me any time and I will give them the dates for interviews and focus groups in each community.”

She hopes to start this work later this month, visit most communities once in early summer and again in August or September.

“This research is important because it addresses the politics of health care in this province,” added Dr. Allison. “It will provide people, both residents and medical practitioners, in rural communities the opportunity to describe what healthcare means to them and how it is delivered and received. In addition, this project will provide information on the way people in rural communities define their social, political and gendered identities based on access to healthcare.”
Residents interested in speaking with Dr. Allison can contact her at (709) 737-7239 or by sending her an e-mail at jill.allison@med.mun.ca.
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