Completed Research Perceived morbidity and dynamics of "Women's health" in low-income areas of Maharashtra (1996-1997)

Perceived morbidity and dynamics of "Women's health" in low-income areas of Maharashtra (1996-1997)

Since the early 1990's, researchers have documented the heavy burden of reproductive morbidity in Indian women, noting the discrepancy between morbidity reported by women and clinical and laboratory measures of the same. This particular research study, conducted as a part of Ph.D thesis of Dr. Karina Kielmann, was about how women perceive, articulate and respond to symptomatic episodes of reproductive morbidity in a low income area of Maharashtra. It was done in collaboration with Johns Hopkins University, School of Public Health.

The study was conducted in two low-income, peri-urban communities in Pune, western Maharashtra, India. The study was observational cross-sectional and was divided into two main phases of data collection. Data were collected through semi-structured interviews, key informant interviews, focus group discussions, illness narratives and life histories. Quantitative data were collected from 377 households regarding women's reproductive histories, their perceived morbidity and their treatment seeking for reported symptoms.

This study highlighted that socio-economic and demographic transitions in these peri-urban communities have made women more aware of their gendered vulnerabilities. It was observed that younger women under the age of 35 years more readily articulate physical and mental distress associated with work, household and sexual relations through the idiom of " illness" as compared to women from older generation. Younger women were more likely to report any symptoms and tended to report more symptoms, ranking them as being of higher severity or discomfort than older women. Social support factors including talking to someone about the problem were found to be significantly related to women's decisions to seek treatment outside the household.

This research indicated that perceived morbidity is a dynamic indicator of gender and health transitions in these communities.


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