– We know that older people in sparsely populated areas seek less care for mild illnesses such as sore throat and colds than people in bigger cities do. We want to study what people who practice self-care have for strategies, how they deal with and relieve symptoms. With the hard pressure on the Swedish healthcare, this knowledge is needed. When resources are limited, those with the greatest medical needs must go first, says Silje Gustafsson, researcher in nursing at Luleå University of Technology.
– It is important if we can utilize knowledge that people in sparsely populated areas possess and spread to other parts of Sweden. This is knowledge that can be lost with older generations, but we hope we can find strategies to spread it to younger generations.
Use nature to promote health
Another part of the pilot project "The traditional use of nature and sef-care practices for health promotion in the rural parts of Northern Sweden" is to study how people use nature to promote health. Silje Gustafsson and Päivi Juuso, researcher in nursing at Luleå University of Technology, will interview with people living in the countryside in Norrbotten, including in and around Korpilombolo in Pajala municipality.
– We are Sweden's northernmost university and the people in our region have close access to nature. We want to know how they use it and what it means to them. My previous research shows that women living with pain find strength in nature. It is interesting to see what strategies people have for maintaining their health and if nature is part of these strategies, says Päivi Juuso.
The two researchers say there is a clear gender aspect to self-care – it's usually the woman in the family who takes responsibility for issues concerning the family's health.
– I'm curious if Swedish Healthcare Direct 177 is about to take over the function that maybe a grandmother or other traditional female network had before, says Silje Gustafsson, who emphasize that there may also be negative aspects of relying on self-care .
– It can be a distrust of healthcare. In some cases, it may also lead to incorrect advice from someone who does not have sufficient knowledge.