'You live too far out' : the impact of the health reforms on disabled rural women : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Philosophy in Women's Studies at Massey University
This thesis examines the impact of New Zealand's health reforms, implemented since the election of the Fourth Labour Government in 1984, on the lives and experiences of disabled rural women. Six disabled rural women who had ongoing contact with the health system were interviewed using a research method based on feminist qualitative interview principles. The nature of the participants' disabilities necessitated that interviews were variously conducted in person, by telephone and by email. The interviews focused around their disability, their relationship with the health system during the reform period, and their experiences as disabled rural women. Research data was divided into seven main findings. These highlighted the disjuncture between the intention of the health documents and the health related experiences of the participants. The findings were: relevance of the health reforms; assumptions about disability; accessing disability support services; needs assessments; attitudes/gatekeeping of service providers; the rural aspect; and support networks. Using a comparative analysis I compared the aims, priorities and objectives of the health reforms against the literature reviews and interview transcripts. Subject positions, processes and participant experiences produced the following findings for analysis: assumptions about disability: policy language; economic concerns; medicine and disability; disability support services; rural health; and gender issues. This thesis concludes by offering recommendations at several levels to ensure disabled rural women do not continue to receive the treatment from the health system that the participants in this research experienced.