Exploring the Impact of Mental Health Concerns on the Roles and Routines of Women in Rural Idaho

Exploring the impact of mental health concerns on the roles and routines of women in rural Idaho through mixed-methods research.

Student name: Lauren Campbell, OTS
Name of Mentor: Dr. Amy Lyons-Brown, MS, OTD, OTR/L
School: University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences
Setting and location: Idaho
Virtual / In-person / Hybrid: Virtual

Purpose: The present study explores the deficiencies in performance of various roles and routines of women living in rural Idaho, which contribute to their perceived occupational performance and quality of life.

Method/Design/Approach: A mixed-methods study with an online, anonymous survey based on screening for symptoms of various mental health concerns, screening for demographic inclusion criteria, and qualitative short answer prompts. Recruitment via snowball sampling through personal connections to gather 22 survey participants with 3 voluntary interviews.

Results/Outcomes: Survey results indicated high propensity for symptoms relating to depression, anxiety, and eating disorder. Survey and interviews yielded three themes: 1) lack of occupational balance and motivation, 2) impact of key relationships on the quality of mental health, and 3) isolation due to contextual factors impacting quality of life.

Conclusions: Various resources regarding maintaining roles and routines should be made available to women in rural Idaho. Occupational therapists are responsible for the advocacy and enabling of meaningful activities and therefore have a place in rural mental health.

Ideas for next steps to build on this topic: Future research could include narrowing of subjects to prenatal or postnatal mothers while, in the meantime, social groups for rural mothers should be made available to facilitate occupational balance and encourage self-care based-activities. The use of county programs to target women who struggle with disordered thinking around food and body image as well as at-home programs to encourage familial bonding would be beneficial to creating connection to self and others.

2-3 tips for students undertaking a similar project: 1) It’s okay to abandon your initial ideas of going into clinics and disseminating information in that way; not all clinics are understanding especially if you’re from out of state like I was. 2) Use your personal connections through your university, family, or friends! This can be a great way to build rapport with sites or participants. 3) Join groups for the rural area you’re working to provide for on Facebook; ask meaningful questions and show that you care, want to help, and have the knowledge/expertise to do so.



Submitting a manuscript to the Journal of Rural Health soon!

1 Like

Hey @lauren45! Thank you so much for sharing this! I love that you published on Medium to share your results- such a great way for the public to access your information!

I just saw this article in the atlantic, and might pay to read it because I am so interested in the topic! I saw in your medium post you cited that rural women have a higher rate of mental illness compared to their urban sisters. Do you remember where you found this?

I just double checked using the tool in your article that I live in a rural area! I can definitely see some increased isolation in this area, but on the other hand I think small communities can have a unique sense of belonging.

Thanks for sharing and making me think about this topic!