Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Dr. Ann Herring
This study explores the self perceived health status and health priorities of a diverse group of women living in the highly industrialized and stigmatized North End neighbourhood of Hamilton, Ontario. Through the use of qualitative methods such as indepth interviewing, focus group discussion, and participant observation, this medical anthropology research locates the health of the study participants (n = 46) within their neighbourhood, explores their experiences in this environment, and examines their understanding of the relationships between those experiences and their health. Guided by biocultural and critical interpretive perspectives, the study focuses on the personal knowledge and interpretations that women themselves assign to health concerns in their communities. The North End women in this study understand health as a multidimensional concept and articulate the ways in which their overall health and well being is enhanced and/or compromised by a variety of place-based characteristics. Despite the fact that they reside in the same neighbourhood, they offer diverse opinions about the effects that neighbourhood attributes have on their health. These differences reflect the variability in participants' health status and needs, socio-demographic circumstances, feelings of personal agency, satisfaction levels, time spent in the neighbourhood on a daily basis, and expectations of their neighbourhood. Because health experiences are embedded in everyday life, I assert that women's own perspectives, experiences and priorities must be incorporated into place-based health research and integrated into program and policy development. Women provide an invaluable and rich form of experiential knowledge about their health and their environment that differs from the "objective facts" put forth by outside individuals with no vested interest in the neighbourhood. Place is an important determinant of health that warrants serious attention by medical anthropologists who thus far have tended to view it merely as a backdrop for their research.
Farmer, Tracy, "Putting Health in its Place: Women's Perceptions and Experiences of Health in Hamilton's North End." (2004). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 1597.