Beyond barriers in studying disparities in women's access to health services in Ontario, Canada: a qualitative metasynthesis

Qual Health Res. 2013 Apr;23(4):476-94. doi: 10.1177/1049732312469464. Epub 2012 Dec 21.


Women live within complex and differing social, economic, and environmental circumstances that influence options to seek health care. In this article we report on a metasynthesis of qualitative research concerning access disparities for women in the Canadian province of Ontario, where there is a publicly funded health care system. We took a metastudy approach to analysis of results from 35 relevant qualitative articles to understand the conditions and conceptualizations of women's inequitable access to health care. The articles' authors attributed access disparities to myriad barriers. We focused our analysis on these barriers to understand the contributing social and political forces. We found that four major, sometimes countervailing, forces shaped access to health care: (a) contextual conditions, (b) constraints, (c) barriers, and (d) deterrents. Complex convergences of these forces acted to push, pull, obstruct, and/or repel women as they sought health care, resulting in different patterns of inequitable access.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Health Services Accessibility*
  • Healthcare Disparities*
  • Humans
  • Ontario
  • Qualitative Research
  • Women's Health Services / statistics & numerical data*