UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Recognition: key to the entrepreneurial strategies of rural coalitions in advancing access to health care Rush, Kathy L.; Chiasson, Mike; Butterfield, Mary; Straka, Silvia; Buckley, Barbara J

Abstract

Objectives: Considerable evidence has advanced the role of citizen-led coalitions (CLC) in supporting the health and social needs of rural citizens. There has been little research focusing on the experiences and strategies of coalitions, with their limited resources and status, in targeting health inequities in their rural communities. The aim of this study was to understand the entrepreneurial strategies and experiences of rural coalitions to effect change in the delivery of health services for their older adult populations. Method: A qualitative descriptive study method was used to generate understanding of the entrepreneurial experiences and strategies of CLCs in advancing health services to meet the health and social needs of their citizens. Seven diverse CLCs (n = 40) from different rural communities participated in focus groups and in individual and coalition-level surveys. Thematic analysis was used to construct themes from the data. Results: Two over-riding themes emerged: entrepreneurial strategies and societal recognition. CLCs engaged in numerous entrepreneurial strategies that enabled actions and outcomes in meeting their health care needs. These strategies included: securing quick wins, leveraging existing resources, and joining forces with stakeholder groups/individuals. However, despite these strategies and successes, coalitions expressed frustration with not being seen and not being heard by decision-makers. This pointed to a key structural barrier to coalition successes -- a broader societal and institutional problem of failing to recognize not only the health needs of rural citizens, but also the legitimacy of the community coalitions to represent and act on those needs. Conclusions: Despite the potential for coalitions to mobilize and effect change in addressing the inequities of rural health service access for older adults, broader barriers to their recognition, may undermine their entrepreneurial strategies and success.

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Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

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