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Health and Well-Being of Farm Women: Contradictory Roles in the Contemporary Economy

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health. 11(2): 249-256. (doi: 10.13031/2013.18192) @2005
Authors:   W. Kubik, R. J. Moore
Keywords:   Agriculture, Farm women, Gender roles, Health

To document the roles of farm women in the contemporary farm economy, their physical health and psychological well-being, and their interaction with and evaluation of the health care system, a multi-stage study employing both quantitative and qualitative research strategies was implemented. A total of 717 Canadian farm women in 20 rural Saskatchewan municipalities returned a 20-page objective questionnaire that focused on: (1) health care, (2) health status, (3) social support, (4) well-being, (5) lifestyle and activities, (6) stress, (7) work, (8) male and female roles, (9) demographics, and (10) farm issues. Subsequently, 20 qualitative interviews were conducted to explore in-depth the findings of the survey. Results document long hours of work, on and off the farm, that often went unacknowledged; pressure to assume the role of a traditional farm wife, expectations they often felt they had difficulty living up to; and high levels of stress in response to economic and family pressures. Although rating the availability and quality of health care as fair to good, the farm women commented on the lack of access to medical and counseling services, and a perceived lack of understanding by policymakers and professionals. Integrated health and educational service centers, increased use of nurse practitioners, and establishment of mobile health services are recommended policy initiatives.

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