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Thriving in Canada: Learning from the (photo)voices of low-income women engaged in action research to improve access to health and social services

Pilar Camargo Plazas, PhD, RN, Assistant Professor Queen's School of Nursing
Lenora Duhn, PhD, RN, Assistant Professor Queen's School of Nursing
Knowledge Users
Community organizations serving the needs of women of low income.
Partners
St. Vincent de Paul Society of Kingston
Heather Aldersey, Associate Professor, School of Rehabilitation Therapy, Queen’s University.
Anna Kirova, Faculty Member, Elementary Education, University of Alberta.
Genevieve Pare, Research Manager, School of Nursing, Queen’s University.
Joan Tranmer, Professor, School of Nursing, Queen’s University.
Jennifer Waite, Queen’s University
Martha M. Whitfield, Queen’s University
Julia Kruizinga, Queen’s University (2019-2020)

What?  In Canada, more than 1.9 million women live on a low income (Canadian Women’s Foundation, 2017). Some women are more likely to live below the poverty line, including, but not limited to, women who have a disability, Indigenous women, women of visible minority, immigrant women, and single mothers (Canadian Women’s Foundation, 2017). We know a great deal about the social determinants of health - those factors that influence our health - but less about how they interact.  Not enough is known about how the combination of female gender and low income affect women’s ability to access health and social services.

 

Why?  Female gender is often not considered by policy-makers, despite women experiencing more than their share of health inequities.  The aim of this study is to generate information about how the combination of living on a low income and being female affects the ability of women to access the social and health services they need.

 

How?  Through a collaborative partnership with the St. Vincent de Paul Society of Kingston, we are engaging in participatory action research with women living on a low income in Kingston. We will be providing them with cameras, in order that they may use their ‘photo voice’ to capture what it means to them to access health and social services and to help share their stories. The study also includes a scoping review of the literature to ‘map’ the facilitators and barriers related to use of health and social services by women of low-income. 

 

Impact of findings:  This study has the potential to provide new information to policymakers about how female gender and low income affect access to and use of health and social services.  Study findings may be used to give women living on a low income ‘a voice’ at the local level, and to inform policies and build strategies for improving access to health and human services in Canada.

Partners
St. Vincent de Paul Society of Kingston