How experiences affect decision-making: Exploring the phenomenon of access to healthcare through the stories of Indigenous women in British Columbia.




Smith, Paige Elizabeth

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This thesis explores how Indigenous women experience barriers to accessing healthcare in British Columbia (B.C.) and how their experiences influence their health-related decisions. The intention was to explore how lived experiences with the provincially funded healthcare system affect if at all, Indigenous women’s decision to access healthcare and consider the potential future implications. The phenomenon of access to healthcare for Indigenous women was explored by analyzing pre-existing literature and conducting in-depth qualitative interviews with Indigenous women. The data collected from the interviews were analyzed through Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. By listening to and amplifying the realities of Indigenous women’s experiences, this research is contributing toward reconciliation. As a non-Indigenous researcher conducting research with Indigenous Peoples, applying and honouring Indigenous research methods and principles of data governance was equally important. Indigenous Researchers at the University of Victoria guided this work along with the CARE principles for Indigenous Data Governance and the Four R’s of Indigenous Research. The analysis indicated the significance of relationality and connection with providers and the system through which Indigenous women access care. It established that these were critical factors affecting their decision-making. Further, this study demonstrates the need for increased understanding and appreciation of Indigeneity within the healthcare systems and the unwavering perseverance that Indigenous women embody to advocate for their and others’ equitable care. This thesis could enrich the development and application of services supporting Indigenous communities and strengthen current healthcare practices and policies by accepting alternative forms of care outside Western healthcare.



Indigenous, Women, Healthcare, Experiences, Voices, Self-determination, Connection