Date of Award


Publication Type

Doctoral Thesis

Degree Name




First Advisor

Fuschia M. Sirois


Womens studies, Psychology, Clinical psychology




Patient perspectives are increasingly acknowledged as key indicators of health care quality, and the utilization of health services. Given the recent cutbacks to women's health services and governing organizations in Ontario, women's perspectives are particularly important to help understand the impact of these decisions. The purpose of this study was to determine if and how women centred care was being employed in Ontario women's health centres, and to explore women's experiences with this paradigm of care. Four directors of women's health centres completed an online survey to assess the extent to which Hills and Mullett's (2005) women centred mandate was being employed in Ontario. A content analysis revealed that directors largely believed they employed all of Hills and Mullet's principles. Interviews with seven women were also conducted to elicit narratives of their experiences at women's health centres. Using Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) and an intersectional framework, four major themes were found: Women's health centres as an alternative to other care, Experiences at women's health centres, Defining and navigating health services, and Understanding and contributions of "the self." These findings indicated that the women were invested in their health, valued women's health centres, and desired a greater voice in defining their health services. These findings also revealed limitations in our health system. Namely, women's experiences and understandings of the system are different than those of their providers. Implications of these findings are discussed and future directions identified.