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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Exploring risk and resilience related to health and well-being among youth who live in rural areas : a rapid evidence assessment Bruner, Mattae


Rural communities exist within uniquely complex social, economic and demographic contexts. Youth living in rural areas face higher rates of socio-contextual adversities and greater barriers to optimal health and well-being when compared to urban youth. Previous research indicates that resilience is protective against the risks associated with adversity. This Rapid Evidence Assessment (REA) explored how living in a rural context influences health and well being related risk and resiliency for youth. The analysis produced results within the following six themes: 1) resources for resilience processes, 2) support and connectedness, 3) positive cognitive patterns, 4) rural youth health perspectives, 5) age and gender and 6) the effect of resilience promoting service delivery. The findings confirm that living in a rural context yields a strong influence on the health and well being outcomes in the lives of rural youth. The influences were sometimes identified as a risk factor, at other times such influences became protective. Resources that promote resilience were found to be individual and contextual forces that youth could access to cope with adversity and improve health and well-being outcomes. The uniquely interconnected relational networks that evolved in rural settings, coupled with the importance that youth placed on those networks for providing well-being, could be utilized to better promote resilience. Additionally, the cognitive patterns with which rural youth interpreted themselves and the world around them were important to the formation of resilience and were found to be positively associated with favourable relationships between youth and peers, family, community, and schools. Based on the synthesis of evidence, I propose that there is merit in the provision of health promotion services for youth who live in rural areas that are: 1) resilience promoting, 2) contextually-specific, 3) empowering and respectful, 4) focused on fostering support and connectedness, 5) endeavouring to strengthen positive cognitive patterns, 6) provided early and consistently over time. Services that use a resilience promoting approach for rural youth have the potential to foster the development of individual and contextual resources that will aid youth to achieve positive health and well-being outcomes, despite higher rates of exposure to significant socio-contextual adversities.

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