Getting Started: Initiating Critical Ethnography and Community-Based Action Research in a Program of Rural Health Studies

  • Jennifer B. Averill University of New Mexico


Rural populations experience higher rates of illness, less access to health care resources, and lower rates of health insurance coverage than do urban populations. A need exists to identify and address the health care needs of rural communities and other isolated populations and to contextualize the findings in the larger rural health environment. Critical ethnography combined with community-based action research is a constructive approach for improving the health status of rural elders as well as other members of isolated communities. Detailed guidelines on how to initiate an ethnographic community-based action study, as shown through a study that explores the definitions of health, health care perceptions, and health care issues for rural elders in the southwestern United States, highlight the value of this type of research for the study of the health care issues of rural populations.