Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work


School of Social Work

First Reader/Committee Chair

Morris, Teresa


The purpose of this research study was to gain a comprehensive understanding of the experiences of low-income women living in a rural community when accessing reproductive care and bring awareness to the barriers and facilitating factors they encounter. The present study adopted a post positivism paradigm and was conducted in a rural county in Northern California. A combination of quantitative and qualitative data was gathered through demographic surveys and individual interviews with twenty-two participants. A bottom-up approach was utilized for the phases of qualitative data analysis, which included open coding, axial coding and selective coding. Data analysis revealed thirteen open codes and various connections between those codes. These codes were broken down into three broader categories: the power of personal experiences at the micro level, the community environment in which services are provided and received, and the broader systemic issues at a macro level. The researcher identified the deeply interpersonal nature of reproductive healthcare, which is often directly related to a cultural or societal stigma, as a core issue among low-income women living in rural areas. This core issue is further explored along with actions that can be taken to help mitigate this issue including but not limited to helping clients process core beliefs and emotions around care, teaching clients how to advocate for themselves in a medical setting and collaborating with healthcare agencies to provide relevant training for medical professionals. This research addresses a gap in the existing literature and contributes to both micro and macro social work by offering insight to the barriers that low-income women face, which can guide both clinical practice and policy development. Understanding the experiences of low-income women can be especially helpful to social workers in healthcare settings and better equip them to work with clients.

Included in

Social Work Commons