Community Resiliency and Health Status


Rural sustainability has been recognized as an ongoing issue for some time, particularly because the majority of rural communities depend on one or several resources that provide them with uncertain economic futures. This study was intended to ascertain the links between the experiences and perceptions of resiliency among community members in resource-reliant communities, and the impact of this resiliency on their health status. Inclusion of an urban neighbourhood allowed for further comparisons and understanding of community resiliency within an urban context.
For this study, “rural” was defined as being outside the commuting zones of large urban centres. “Resiliency” was seen as the ability of a community to deal with adversity, and in so doing to reach a higher level of functioning. Previous studies had identified a community-resiliency process that includes: the community experiencing interactions as a collective unit; development of an expression of a sense of community; and community action to deal with issues.
Three communities were included in the current study:

  • Hardisty, an agricultural community, the economy of which is supplemented by the region’s oil wells. This town had recently experienced the proposed introduction of an Intensive Livestock Operation, but had been successful in defeating the proposal through a community-organizing movement.
  • Hinton, a mining community that had experienced several mine closures, the most recent in 2003. The economy of Hinton has always been dependent on natural resources, including oil and lumber as well as mining.
  • Riverside Meadows, an urban neighbourhood within Red Deer, Alberta. This community was originally a French Canadian village known as North Red Deer.
The purpose of this pilot study was to explore the health implications of living in resource-reliant communities in Alberta. Three methodological approaches—qualitative interviews, household surveys, and examinations of existing health-data bases—were used to explicate this understanding.

Final Report for the Health and Resiliency Study Download PDF (618KB)

This study was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).