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Document Type

Thesis - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Graduate Nursing

First Advisor

Shirley Roddy


rural family medical care, medical emergencies, rural family South Dakota attitudes


Living in remote rural areas offers a very special way of life. However, obtaining healthcare in these remote areas is challenging, especially when a medical emergency occurs. Very little research has been conducted regarding emergency health care in rural United States.
This qualitative research study looked at the experiences of rural families during healthcare emergencies. Nine remote rural families were asked to tell their stories of what happened during their medical emergencies. While each story was unique, six common themes or concepts were identified.
Major concepts included hardiness, access to care, spirituality, community, family cohesiveness, and risk for injury. Access to care barriers include distance, poor road conditions, and availability of the emergency medical system (EMS). A strong sense of thankfulness was present. When a traumatic event occurs in rural areas, the neighbors will come. This strong sense of community helps families cope during difficult times. Families in this study who worked hard together on farms and ranches seem to have developed a special closeness. This serves them well when they ready need each other. The risk for injury is always present. The use of large, complex machinery, large animals and adverse weather all contribute to this.



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


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