Objective: The objective of the present study was to examine the health beliefs, values and practices of rural residents living in two geographically diverse regions of western Canada.
Design: An ethnographic study with semistructured interviews of 55 persons was conducted with participants ranging in age from 19 to 84 years.
Results: Being healthy was described as having balance in one's life, taking into consideration the relationship between the physical, mental, social, and spiritual aspects of the person. Health-seeking behaviours spanned the gamut of diet, exercise, sleep, home remedies, a belief in a spiritual being, to consulting health professionals. Resources that participants valued included professionals who listened, friends, neighbours, church, music, elders, ambulance service and the internet.
Conclusions: It is important that professionals view the person beyond the disease and take into account more than the physical manifestations of an illness. A key component is the demonstration of respect for all persons regardless of age. It is essential that health professionals develop websites providing accurate health-care information. Participants noted the need to recruit and retain professionals in rural regions.