Realities of Accessing Care in Rural BC

March 2003 – December 2004

Research Team

  • Principal Investigators: Jude Kornelsen and Stefan Grzybowski
  • Support Team:  Lana Sullivan, Catlin Rideout


  • Merritt, Tofino/Ucluelet, Telegraph Creek, Dease Lake, Iskut, Bella Bella, Nakusp

Funding Agency

  • Canadian Institutes of Health Research

Project Summary

This qualitative study investigated women’s experiences of their maternity care in the context of the social and economic realities of life in rural, remote and small urban communities, and examined the consequences – both intended and unintended – for women and their infants of birthing outside of their local communities. Data revealed that women’s experiences emanated from the negotiated relationship between their core values and the realities of rural living, within a social context. Realities included the geography of the community, health status in pregnancy, psycho-social variables and health services resources. The interactions between women’s values and realities took place within a social context that was defined primarily by social relationships but also included their socio-economic status, education and cultural attributes. Varying psycho-social costs were incurred to women, their families and communities when women left their home community to give birth.

This data presents significant implications for decision making resource planning for rural maternity care and highlights the need to give further voice to women’s experiences of maternity care.

Related Links

Kornelsen, J., & Grzybowski, S. (2005). Safety and community: the maternity care needs of rural parturient women.  J Obstet Gynaecol Can, 27 (6), 554-61.

Kornelsen, J., & Grzybowski, S. (2005). The Costs of Separation: The birth experiences of women in isolated and remote communities in British Columbia.  Canadian Women Studies Journal, 24 (1), 75-80.