ERIC Number: EJ989622
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2012-Oct
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
"We Don't Want to Talk about That": Overcoming Barriers to Rural Aging Research and Interventions on Sensitive Topics
Zanjani, Faika; Rowles, Graham D.
Journal of Rural Studies, v28 n4 p398-405 Oct 2012
Geographical, economic, social and cultural barriers to accessing services in rural areas are widely reported. Less widely discussed are dilemmas posed by individual and community reluctance to address sensitive health issues. This article, focusing on the highly sensitive area of mental health, and employing a participatory action approach, describes the natural history of a project, the Mental Health and Aging Initiative (MHAI) to enhance awareness of mental health issues in rural Kentucky-Appalachian communities and overcome the reluctance of individuals in these communities to seek assistance. Funded by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), MHAI involved an educational intervention to improve knowledge about mental health and aging in rural Appalachian counties. The need to overcome significant community reluctance to engage in discussion of mental health resulted in significant modification of the protocol. The intervention was grounded in recognition of four key aspects of the local situation: (1) the need to understand the sensitivity of mental health as an element of rural culture; (2) the critical role of local community leaders as points of entry, acceptance, and action; (3) the need to overcome social stigma and reframe the topic of mental health in a more positive light; and (4) the need for methodological innovation in developing an empowering educational action plan oriented toward community-wide long-term impact. The intervention model that emerged from these considerations was based on engaging community leaders, providing educational and technical resources, and nurturing the acceptance by individual rural residents of responsibility for monitoring community mental health. This motif became a central theme in a strategy designed to facilitate culture change and acceptance of mental health as a community concern. It involved active engagement of community representatives in defining and implementing an intervention consistent with participatory action research as a means of empowering rural residents in monitoring and addressing sensitive health care issues. Given that many issues in rural health are difficult to address because of such sensitivity, the approach described is considered to have application in other contexts.
Descriptors: Action Research, Intervention, Mental Health, Rural Areas, Community Leaders, Counties, Gerontology, Barriers, Research Problems, Resistance (Psychology), Access to Health Care, Program Descriptions, Federal Programs, Health Promotion, Models, Educational Resources, Technical Assistance, Community Attitudes, Older Adults, Aging (Individuals), Rural Population, Rural Sociology, Community Influence, Social Environment, Local Issues, Participatory Research, Community Health Services, Health Education, Health Programs, Health Needs
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Kentucky