Women's health, traditionally defined, emphasises reproductive and maternal conditions without consideration of social contexts. Advocates urge a broader conceptualisation. The medical literature influences the definitions and delivery of women's health care. We compared how women's health was represented in leading general medical (GM) versus women's health specialty (WS) journals.
Original investigations published between January 1 – June 30, 1999 in leading GM (n = 514) and WS (n = 82) journals were compared. Data were collected from 99 GM and 82 WS articles on women's health. Independent reviewers conducted content analyses of sample characteristics, study design, and health topic. Each article was classified as "Traditional" (e.g. menstruation, breast cancer), "Non-traditional" (e.g. abuse, osteoporosis), or "Both."
Of the GM articles, 53 (53.5%) focused solely on a traditional women's health topic; half were reproductive and half female cancers. In contrast, 22 (26.8%) WS articles were traditionally focused. A non-traditional topic was the sole focus of 27 (27.3%) GM articles versus 34 (41.5%) WS articles. One-fifth of GM and one-third of WS articles addressed both. RCTs dominated the GM articles, while 40% of WS articles used qualitative or mixed study designs. Leading sources of women's death and disability were not well covered in either type of journal.
Most GM articles drew on a narrow definition of women's health. WS journals provided more balanced coverage, addressing social concerns in addition to "navel-to-knees" women's health. Since GM journals have wide impact, editorial decisions and peer review processes should promote a broader conceptualisation of women's health.
Past studies of relationships between alcohol and hip fracture have generally focused on total alcohol consumed and not type of alcohol. Different types of alcohol consist of varying components which may affect risk of hip fracture differentially. This study seeks to examine the relationship between alcohol consumption, with a focus on type of alcohol consumed (e.g. beer, wine, or hard liquor) and hip fracture risk in post-menopausal women.
The longitudinal cohort consisted of U.S. post-menopausal women aged 50–79 years enrolled between 1993–1998 in the Women’s Health Initiative Clinical Trials and Observational Study (N=115,655).
Women were categorized as non-drinkers, past drinkers, infrequent drinkers and drinkers by preference of alcohol type (i.e. those who preferred wine, beer, hard liquor, or who had no strong preference). Mean alcohol consumption among current drinkers was 3.3 servings per week; this was similar among those who preferred wine, beer and liquor. After adjustment for potential confounders, alcohol preference was strongly correlated with hip fracture risk (p = 0.0167); in particular, women who preferred wine were at lower risk than non-drinkers (OR=0.78; 95% CI 0.64-0.95), past drinkers (OR=0.85; 95% CI 0.72-1.00), infrequent drinkers (OR=0.73; 95% CI 0.61-0.88), hard liquor drinkers (OR=0.87; 95% CI 0.71-1.06), beer drinkers (OR=0.72; 95% CI 0.55-0.95) and those with no strong preference (OR=0.89; 95% CI 0.89; 95% CI 0.73-1.10).
Preference of alcohol type was associated with hip fracture; women who preferentially consumed wine had a lower risk of hip fracture compared to non-drinkers, past drinkers, and those with other alcohol preferences.
Alcohol; Wine; Hip fracture; Osteoporosis; Women’s Health Initiative
There is a lack of research about the experiences of participating in weight-reducing interventions. The aim of this study was to explore barriers and facilitators to weight-loss experienced by participants in a diet intervention for middle-aged to older women in the general population in Northern Sweden.
In the intervention the women were randomised to eat either a Palaeolithic-type diet or a diet according to Nordic Nutrition recommendations for 24 months. A strategic selection was made of women from the two intervention groups as well as from the drop-outs in relation to social class, civil status and age. Thematic structured interviews were performed with twelve women and analysed with qualitative content analyses.
The results showed that the women in the dietary intervention experienced two main barriers – struggling with self (related to difficulties in changing food habits, health problems, lack of self-control and insecurity) and struggling with implementing the diet (related to social relations and project-related difficulties) – and two main facilitators– striving for self-determination (related to having clear goals) and receiving support (from family/friends as well as from the project) – for weight-loss. There was a greater emphasis on barriers than on facilitators.
It is important to also include drop-outs from diet interventions in order to fully understand barriers to weight-loss. A gender-relational approach can bring new insights into understanding experiences of barriers to weight-loss.
ClinicalTrials gov NCT00692536.
Behavior change; Weight management; Obesity/overweight; Intervention programmes; Gender; Qualitative analysis; Health behavior; Women’s health/midlife
Low-income urban working mothers face many challenges in their domestic, environmental, and working conditions that may affect their mental health. In India, a high prevalence of mental health disorders has been recorded in young women, but there has been little research to examine the factors that affect their mental health at home and work.
Through a primarily qualitative approach, we studied the relationship between work, caring for family, spousal support, stress relief strategies and mental health amongst forty eight low-income working mothers residing in urban slums across Bangalore, India. Participants were construction workers, domestic workers, factory workers and fruit and vegetable street vendors. Qualitative data analysis themes included state of mental health, factors that affected mental health positively or negatively, manifestations and consequences of stress and depression, and stress mitigators.
Even in our small sample of women, we found evidence of extreme depression, including suicidal ideation and attempted suicide. Women who have an alcoholic and/or abusive husband, experience intimate partner violence, are raising children with special needs, and lack adequate support for child care appear to be more susceptible to severe and prolonged periods of depression and suicide attempts. Factors that pointed towards reduced anxiety and depression were social support from family, friends and colleagues and fulfilment from work.
This qualitative study raises concerns that low-income working mothers in urban areas in India are at high risk for depression, and identifies common factors that create and mitigate stress in this population group. We discuss implications of the findings for supporting the mental health of urban working women in the Indian context. The development of the national mental health policy in India and its subsequent implementation should draw on existing research documenting factors associated with negative mental health amongst specific population groups in order to ensure greater impact.
Low-income work; Mental health; Women’s health; India
The current political climate with regards to abortion in the US, along with the economic recession may be affecting women’s reasons for seeking abortion, warranting a new investigation into the reasons why women seek abortion.
Data for this study were drawn from baseline quantitative and qualitative data from the Turnaway Study, an ongoing, five-year, longitudinal study evaluating the health and socioeconomic consequences of receiving or being denied an abortion in the US. While the study has followed women for over two full years, it relies on the baseline data which were collected from 2008 through the end of 2010. The sample included 954 women from 30 abortion facilities across the US who responded to two open ended questions regarding the reasons why they wanted to terminate their pregnancy approximately one week after seeking an abortion.
Women’s reasons for seeking an abortion fell into 11 broad themes. The predominant themes identified as reasons for seeking abortion included financial reasons (40%), timing (36%), partner related reasons (31%), and the need to focus on other children (29%). Most women reported multiple reasons for seeking an abortion crossing over several themes (64%). Using mixed effects multivariate logistic regression analyses, we identified the social and demographic predictors of the predominant themes women gave for seeking an abortion.
Study findings demonstrate that the reasons women seek abortion are complex and interrelated, similar to those found in previous studies. While some women stated only one factor that contributed to their desire to terminate their pregnancies, others pointed to a myriad of factors that, cumulatively, resulted in their seeking abortion. As indicated by the differences we observed among women’s reasons by individual characteristics, women seek abortion for reasons related to their circumstances, including their socioeconomic status, age, health, parity and marital status. It is important that policy makers consider women’s motivations for choosing abortion, as decisions to support or oppose such legislation could have profound effects on the health, socioeconomic outcomes and life trajectories of women facing unwanted pregnancies.
Abortion; Women’s health; Qualitative research
This qualitative study sets to fill a gap in knowledge by exploring the health seeking behaviour of rural women living in the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt). The existing literature on the oPt has so far focused on unravelling the country’s epidemiological and health system profile, but has largely neglected the assessment of factors shaping people’s decisions on health care use.
Based on a conceptual framework rooted in the Anderson behavioural model, we conducted 30 semi-structured interviews with purposely selected women and seven key informant interviews in three purposely selected villages in Ramallah district.
Our findings indicate that women delay seeking professional care, use self-prescribed medications and home treatment, and do not use preventive and educational health services. Their health seeking behaviour is the result of the interplay of several factors: their gendered socio-cultural role; their health beliefs; financial affordability and geographical accessibility; their perceptions of the quality of care; and their perceived health needs.
Findings are discussed in the light of their policy implications, suggesting that adequate health policy planning ought to take into considerations socio-cultural dimensions beyond those directly pertinent to the health care system.
Occupied Palestinian territories (oPt); Women’s health; Health seeking; Andersen model
There is increasing recognition of the need to identify risk factors for poor mental health in pregnancy and following birth. In New South Wales, Australia, health policy mandates psychosocial assessment and depression screening for all women at the antenatal booking visit and at six to eight weeks after birth. Few studies have explored in-depth women’s experience of assessment and how disclosures of sensitive information are managed by midwives and nurses. This paper describes women’s experience of psychosocial assessment and depression screening examining the meaning they attribute to assessment and how this influences their response.
This qualitative ethnographic study included 34 women who were observed antenatally in the clinic with 18 midwives and 20 of the same women who were observed during their interaction with 13 child and family health nurses after birth in the home or the clinic environment. An observational tool, 4D&4R, together with field notes was used to record observations and were analysed descriptively using frequencies. Women also participated in face to face interviews. Field note and interview data was analysed thematically and similarities and differences across different time points were identified.
Most participants reported that it was acceptable to them to be asked the psychosocial questions however they felt unprepared for the sensitive nature of the questions asked. Women with a history of trauma or loss were distressed by retelling their experiences. Five key themes emerged. Three themes; ’Unexpected: a bit out of the blue’, ‘Intrusive: very personal questions’ and ‘Uncomfortable: digging over that old ground’, describe the impact that assessment had on women. Women also emphasised that the approach taken by the midwife or nurse during assessment influenced their experience and in some cases what they reported. This is reflected in the themes titled: Approach: ’sensitivity and care’ and ’being watched’.
The findings emphasise the need for health services to better prepare women for this assessment prior to and after birth. It is crucial that health professionals are educationally prepared for this work and receive ongoing training and support in order to always deliver care that is empathetic and sensitive to women who are disclosing personal information.
Psychosocial assessment; Depression screening; Mental health; Women’s health; Postnatal depression; Domestic violence screening; Midwifery; Nursing
Frequent reporting of cases of hysterical conversion reaction (HCR) among hospitalized female medical patients in Bangladesh’s public hospital system led us to explore the prevalence of “HCR” diagnoses within hospitals and the manner in which physicians identify, manage, and perceive patients whom they diagnose with HCR.
We reviewed admission records from women’s general medicine wards in two public hospitals to determine how often and at what point during hospitalization patients received diagnoses of HCR. We also interviewed 13 physicians about their practices and perceptions related to HCR.
Of 2520 women admitted to the selected wards in 2008, 6% received diagnoses of HCR. HCR patients had wide-ranging symptoms including respiratory distress, headaches, chest pain, convulsions, and abdominal complaints. Most doctors diagnosed HCR in patients who had any medically-unexplained physical symptom. According to physician reports, women admitted to medical wards for HCR received brief diagnostic evaluations and initial treatment with short-acting tranquilizers or placebo agents. Some were referred to outpatient psychiatric treatment. Physicians reported that repeated admissions for HCR were common. Physicians noted various social factors associated with HCR, and they described failures of the current system to meet psychosocial needs of HCR patients.
In these hospital settings, physicians assign HCR diagnoses frequently and based on vague criteria. We recommend providing education to increase general physicians’ awareness, skill, and comfort level when encountering somatization and other common psychiatric issues. Given limited diagnostic capacity for all patients, we raise concern that when HCR is used as a "wastebasket" diagnosis for unexplained symptoms, patients with treatable medical conditions may go unrecognized. We also advocate introducing non-physician hospital personnel to address psychosocial needs of HCR patients, assist with triage in a system where both medical inpatient beds and psychiatric services are scarce commodities, and help ensure appropriate follow up.
Women's health services; Mental health; Somatoform disorders; Conversion disorder; Diagnosis; Physician's practice patterns; Health services needs and demand; Bangladesh
The discussion of health emphasizes the importance of analyses of social determinants of health. Social determinants permit the targeting of policies towards the social factors that impair or improve health. Two broad questions are considered: (i) what do we know about the social determinants of women's health? (ii) are there gender-related differences in health problems, and how we might explain them?
While 'sex' may be used to denote the biological difference between women and men, it is an imperfect measure of 'gender'. It is argued that a single measure cannot hope to capture the complexity of gender nor the ways in which gender relations change over time and give rise to or exacerbate health problems. The literature on the social determinants of health shows the importance of placing a primary emphasis on addressing the social and economic sources of ill health at national, provincial and community levels.
Data Gaps and Recommendations
Recent studies of gender differences in health point to a lack of data and to the importance of understanding changing gender relations; differences in power and access to resources between women and men, and changing expectations of appropriate gender roles and behaviours. Poverty, social exclusion, unemployment, poor working conditions and unequal gender relations have a profound influence on patterns of health and illness. We suggest some material markers of change that might be used in health surveillance. With a more complete understanding of gender's role in shaping daily lives, these markers could be refined and expanded.
Total fertility rates (TFRs) have decreased worldwide. The Canadian fertility rate has gone from 3.90 per woman in 1960 to 1.49 in 2000. However, not many studies have examined the impact on women's health of reduced fertility rates, delayed fertility and more births to unmarried women. This paper presents information on the relation between family size and specific determinants of health.
The rate of TFR decline varies considerably by geographic location and socio-demographic subgroup. Further, the associations between family size and selected determinants of health are different for women and men. For example a woman with one child is almost four times more likely to be "coupled" than a childless woman, and if she has two children she is significantly more likely to be "coupled" than if she had only one child. However, a man with one or more children is over six times more likely to be "coupled" than his childless counterpart, and this does not vary with family size.
Data Gaps and Recommendations
There is a paucity of data on the impact of reduced fertility rates on women's health in general and on how women's roles affect their decision to have children. While it would be useful to examine longer-term health outcomes by parity and age of first birth, as well as socio-economic and role-related variables these longitudinal and detailed "role related" data are not available. Given the differing profiles of women and men with children, further health policies research is needed to support vulnerable women with children.
Urinary incontinence (UI) continues to affect millions of women worldwide and those living in resource poor settings seem to be more affected. The purpose of this study was to determine the prevalence of UI and factors associated with UI symptom severity (UISS) among women in a selected district in India.
A cross-sectional design was used to collect data from a sample of 598 community dwelling women in the age range of 20 to 60 years. Data was collected using a questionnaire survey of participants who were found in their homes.
The prevalence of UI was 33.8% and the majority of women had negative attitudes about the condition. For instance most women were in agreement with statements such as: UI cannot be prevented or cured (98%); women with UI are cursed (97%); women are not supposed to tell anyone about the problem (90%) and others. Of the 202 women with self-reported UI, the majority reported having moderate UISS (78%) and others rated the symptoms as mild (22%). The woman’s age at first birth (p<.01) was negatively associated with UISS, while the number of pregnancies (p<.01) and weight of the largest baby ever delivered (p<.01), were positively associated with UISS. The weight of the largest baby delivered had the strongest impact on predicting UISS.
Many community dwelling women are suffering from UI at proportions which warrant significant public health consideration. Therefore public health programs to prevent UI or worsening of symptoms are required and should emphasize health education, because of the pervasive negative attitudes among affected and unaffected women. The predictors reported here can be used to priotize care for affected women and to encourage early uptake of health actions and behaviors that promote pelvic floor strengthening in at risk women who may be reluctant to disclose UI.
Risk factors; Women; Attitude; Urinary incontinence; Predictors; Prevalence
Many women have discontinued hormone replacement therapy (HRT) in view of recent findings. The goal of this study was to determine if HRT discontinuation is associated with changes in health-related quality of life (HRQOL) in elderly women.
We studied women enrolled in Pennsylvania's Pharmaceutical Assistance Contract for the Elderly (PACE) program, linking prescription claims with data from a longitudinal mail survey. HRQOL measures included the number of days out of the last 30 that physical health was not good and analogous measures for mental health, pain, and interference with activities, as well as a composite "healthy days" measure developed by CDC. Longitudinal analyses focused on 2,357 women who completed surveys in both 2002 and 2003, and who used HRT at baseline (mean age = 75.5, range = 65–102). Propensity scores were used to match HRT continuers and discontinuers according to HRT type, demographics, and baseline HRQOL. Analysis of covariance was used to compare HRQOL change in continuers and discontinuers.
Between 2002 and 2003, 43% of HRT users discontinued therapy. Analysis of covariance to examine HRQOL change revealed complex interactions with age. Discontinuers aged 65–74 reported greater increases in days in which mental health was not good (p < .05), fewer "healthy days" (p < .05), more days in which health interfered with activities (p < .01), and more days with pain (p < .01). Among women aged 75–84, HRT discontinuers reported more days in which physical health was not good (p < .01); no other significant effects were observed in this group. Relative to HRT continuers, discontinuers aged 85 and older experienced apparent HRQOL improvements following cessation, with fewer days in which physical health was not good (p < .01), fewer days of poor mental health (p < .05), and more "healthy days" (p < .01).
These results suggest that there are substantial age differences in response to HRT discontinuation. While women aged 65–74 experienced apparent declines in HRQOL following HRT cessation, women aged 85 and older experienced relative improvements. The HRQOL declines observed among younger women underscore the importance of communication between clinicians and patients throughout the discontinuation process. These results also demonstrate the value of HRQOL surveillance as a component of health program administration.
The association between a number of socio-economic determinants and health has been amply demonstrated in Canada and elsewhere. Over the past decades, women's increased labour force participation and changing family structure, among other changes in the socio-economic environment, have altered social roles considerably and lead one to expect that the pattern of disparities in health among women and men will also have changed. Using data from the CCHS (2000), this chapter investigates the association between selected socio-economic determinants of health and two specific self-reported outcomes among women and men: (a) self-perceived health and (b) self-reports of chronic conditions.
The descriptive picture demonstrated by this CCHS dataset is that 10% of men aged 65 and over report low income, versus 23% of women within the same age bracket. The results of the logistic regression models calculated for women and men on two outcome variables suggest that the selected socio-economic determinants used in this analysis are important for women and for men in a differential manner. These results while supporting other results illustrate the need to refine social and economic characteristics used in surveys such as the CCHS so that they would become more accurate predictors of health status given that there are personal, cultural and environmental dimensions to take into account.
Because it was shown that socio economic determinants of health are context sensitive and evolve over time, studies should be designed to examine the complex temporal interactions between a variety of social and biological determinants of health from a life course perspective. Examples are provided in the chapter.
This chapter investigates (1) the association between ethnicity and migration, as measured by length of residence in Canada, and two specific self-reported outcomes: (a) self-perceived health and (b) self-reports of chronic conditions; and (2) the extent to which these selected determinants provide an adequate portrait of the differential outcomes on Canadian women's self-perceived health and self-reports of chronic conditions. The 2000 Canadian Community Health Survey was used to assess these associations while controlling for selected determinants such as age, sex, family structure, highest level of education attained and household income.
• Recent immigrant women (2 years or less in Canada) are more likely to report poor health than Canadian-born women (OR = 0.48 CI: 0.30–0.77). Immigrant women who have been in Canada 10 years and over are more likely to report poor health than Canadian-born women (OR = 1.31 CI: 1.18–1.45).
• Although immigrant women are less likely to report chronic conditions than Canadian-born women, this health advantage decreased over time in Canada (OR from 0.35 to 0.87 for 0–2 years to 10 years and above compared with Canadian born women).
Data Gaps and Recommendations
• Migration experience needs to be conceptualized according to the results of past studies and included as a social determinant of health above and beyond ethnicity and culture. It is expected that the upcoming longitudinal survey of immigrants will help enhance surveillance capacity in this area.
• Variables need to be constructed to allow women and men to best identify themselves appropriately according to ethnic identity and number of years in the host country; some of the proposed categories used as a cultural group may simply refer to skin colour without capturing associated elements of culture, ethnicity and life experiences.
Urinary incontinence (UI) is a frequent public health problem with negative social consequences, particularly for women. Female susceptibility is the result of anatomical, social, economic and cultural factors. The main objectives of this study are to evaluate the prevalence of UI in the female population of Andorra over the age of 15 and, specifically, to determine the influence of socio-demographic factors. A secondary aim of the study is to measure the degree of concern associated with UI and whether the involved subjects have asked for medical assistance, or not.
Women aged 15 and over, answered a self-administered questionnaire while attending professional health units in Andorra during the period November 1998 to January 2000. A preliminary study was carried out to ensure that the questionnaire was both understandable and simple.
863 completed questionnaires were obtained during a one year period. The breakdown of the places where the questionnaires were obtained and filled out is as follows: 32.4% – medical specialists' offices; 31.5% – outpatient centres served exclusively by nurses; 24% – primary care doctors' offices; 12% from other sources. Of the women who answered the questionnaire, 37% manifested urine losses. Of those,45.3% presented regular urinary incontinence (RUI) and 55.7% presented sporadic urinary incontinence (SporadicUI). In those women aged between 45 and 64, UI was present in 56% of the subjects. UI was more frequent among parous than non-parous women. UI was perceived as a far more bothersome and disabling condition by working, middle-class women than in other socio-economic groups. Women in this particular group are more limited by UI, less likely to seek medical advice but more likely to follow a course of treatment. From a general point of view, however, less than 50% of women suffering from UI sought medical advice.
The prevalence of UI in the female population of Andorra stands at about 37%, a statistic which should encourage both health professionals and women to a far greater awareness of this condition.
Urinary Incontinence; Prevalence; Women
Clomiphene citrate (CC) is first line treatment in women with World Health Organization (WHO) type II anovulation and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Whereas 60% to 85% of these women will ovulate on CC, only about one half will have conceived after six cycles. If women do not conceive, treatment can be continued with gonadotropins or intra-uterine insemination (IUI). At present, it is unclear for how many cycles ovulation induction with CC should be repeated, and when to switch to ovulation induction with gonadotropins and/or IUI.
We started a multicenter randomised controlled trial in the Netherlands comparing six cycles of CC plus intercourse or six cycles of gonadotrophins plus intercourse or six cycles of CC plus IUI or six cycles of gonadotrophins plus IUI.
Women with WHO type II anovulation who ovulate but did not conceive after six ovulatory cycles of CC with a maximum of 150 mg daily for five days will be included.
Our primary outcome is birth of a healthy child resulting from a pregnancy that was established in the first eight months after randomisation. Secondary outcomes are clinical pregnancy, miscarriage, multiple pregnancy and treatment costs. The analysis will be performed according to the intention to treat principle. Two comparisons will be made, one in which CC is compared to gonadotrophins and one in which the addition of IUI is compared to ovulation induction only. Assuming a live birth rate of 40% after CC, 55% after addition of IUI and 55% after ovulation induction with gonadotrophins, with an alpha of 5% and a power of 80%, we need to recruit 200 women per arm (800 women in total).
An independent Data and Safety Monitoring Committee has criticized the data of the first 150 women and concluded that a sample size re-estimation should be performed after including 320 patients (i.e. 80 per arm).
The trial will provide evidence on the most effective, safest and most cost effective treatment in women with WHO type II anovulation who do not conceive after six ovulatory cycles with CC with a maximum of 150 mg daily for five days. This evidence could imply the need for changing our guidelines, which may cause a shift in large practice variation to evidence based primary treatment for these women.
Trial registration number
Netherlands Trial register NTR1449
Research on the relationship between women's social roles and mental health has been equivocal. Although a greater number of roles often protect mental health, certain combinations can lead to strain. Our study explored the moderating affects of different role combinations on women's mental health by examining associations with socioeconomic status and differences in women's distress (depressive symptoms, personal stress (role strain) and chronic stress (role strain plus environmental stressors).
Women with children, whether single or partnered, had a higher risk of personal stress. Distress, stress and chronic stress levels of mothers, regardless of employment, or marital status, are staggeringly high. Single, unemployed mothers were significantly more likely than all other groups to experience financial stress and food insecurity. For partnered mothers, rates of personal stress and chronic stress were significantly lower among unemployed partnered mothers. Married and partnered mothers reported better mental health than their single counterparts. Lone, unemployed mothers were twice as likely to report a high level of distress compared with other groups. Lone mothers, regardless of employment status, were more likely to report high personal and chronic stress.
Data Gaps and Recommendations
National health surveys need to collect more data on the characteristics of women's work environment and their care giving responsibilities. Questions on household composition should include inter-generational households, same sex couples and multifamily arrangements. Data disaggregation by ethno-racial background would be helpful. Data should be collected on perceived quality of domestic and partnership roles and division of labours.
Although uterine prolapse (UP) occurs commonly in Nepal, little is known about the physical health and care-seeking practices of women with UP. This study aimed to explore women’s experiences of UP and its effect on daily life, its perceived causes, and health care-seeking practices.
Using a convenience sampling method, we conducted 115 semi-structured and 16 in-depth interviews with UP-affected women during September–December 2012. All interviews occurred in outreach clinics in villages of the Dhading district.
Study participants were 23–82 years of age. Twenty-four percent were literate, 47.2% had experienced a teenage pregnancy, and 29% had autonomy to make healthcare decisions. Most participants (>85%) described the major physical discomforts of UP as difficulty with walking, standing, working, sitting, and lifting. They also reported urinary incontinence (68%) bowel symptoms (42%), and difficulty with sexual activity (73.9%). Due to inability to perform household chores or fulfill their husband’s sexual desires, participants endured humiliation, harassment, and torture by their husbands and other family members, causing severe emotional stress. Following disclosure of UP, 24% of spouses remarried and 6% separated from the marital relationship. Women perceived the causes of UP as unsafe childbirth, heavy work during the postpartum period, and gender discrimination. Prior to visiting these camps some women (42%) hid UP for more than 10 years. Almost half (48%) of participants sought no health care; 42% ingested a herb and ate nutritious food. Perceived barriers to accessing health care included shame (48%) and feeling that care was unnecessary (12.5%). Multiple responses (29%) included shame, inability to share, male service provider, fear of stigma and discrimination, and perceiving UP as normal for childbearing women.
UP adversely affects women’s daily life and negatively influences their physical, mental, and social well-being. The results of our study are useful to generate information on UP symptoms and female health care seeking practices. Our findings can be helpful for effective development of UP awareness programs to increase service utilization at early stages of UP and thereby might contribute to both primary and secondary prevention of UP.
Uterine prolapse; Health seeking practice; Nepal
Iranian women, many of whom live in small cities, have limited access to mammography and clinical breast examinations. Thus, breast self examination (BSE) becomes an important and necessary approach to detecting this disease in its early stages in order to limit its resultant morbidity and mortality. This study examined constructs arising from the Health Belief Model as predictors of breast self examination behavior in a sample of women living in Bandar Abbas, Iran.
This study was conducted in eight health centers located in Bandar Abbas, Iran. The sample consisted of 240 eligible women who were selected from referrals to the centers. The inclusion criteria were as follows: aged 30 years and over; and able to read and write Farsi. Women with breast cancer, who were pregnant, or breast feeding, were excluded from the study. Data were collected by using a self administered questionnaire which included demographic characteristics and Champion's Health Belief Model Scale. This instrument measures the concepts of disease susceptibility (3 items), seriousness (6 items), benefits (4 items), barriers (8 items) and self-efficacy (10 items).
The subjects' mean age was 37.2 (SD = 6.1) years. Just under a third of the subjects (31.7%) had performed BSE in the past and 7.1% of them performed it at least monthly. Perceived benefits and perceived self-efficacy of the women who performed BSE were significantly higher compared with women who did not practice BSE (p < 0.03). Furthermore, perceived barriers were lower among those who had performed BSE (p < 0.001). Logistic regression analysis indicated that women who perceived fewer barriers (OR: 0.70, 95% CI: 0.63-0.77, p < 0.001) and had higher self-efficacy (OR: 1.08, 95% CI: 1.02-1.13, p = 0.003) were more likely to perform BSE (R2 = 0.52).
Findings from this study indicated that perceived barriers and perceived self-efficacy could be predictors of BSE behavior among the sample of women. Therefore, BSE training programs that emphasize self-efficacy and address perceived barriers are recommended.
Breast cancer-preventive behaviors are critical for community and women’s health. Although many studies have addressed women’s knowledge and attitudes toward breast cancer, little information is available about their experiences of breast cancer preventive behaviors. This study aimed to explore the experiences of Iranian women regarding preventive behaviors.
This was a qualitative study. A sample of Iranian women aged 30 years and over was selected purposefully. Data collected through focus group and semi-structured audiotaped interviews and were analyzed by conventional content analysis.
The following five main themes emerged from the analysis: attitude toward breast cancer and preventive behaviors, stress management, healthy lifestyle, perceived social support and individual/environmental barriers. The findings showed that women were highly motivated to preventive behaviors of breast cancer but faced considerable challenges.
The findings indicated that increased awareness, positive attitudes, stronger motivational factors, and fewer barriers toward preventive behaviors are most important parameters that might encourage women to practice breast cancer-preventive behaviors.
Preventive behaviors; Breast cancer; Iranian women; Qualitative study
Despite an increased use of contraceptive methods by women, unintended pregnancies represent one of the most evident violations of women’s sexual and reproductive rights around the world. This study aims to measure the association between individual and community exposure to different forms of violence against women (physical/sexual violence by the partner, sexual abuse by any person, or controlling behavior by the partner) and unintended pregnancies.
Data from the 2006/2007 Nicaraguan Demographic and Health Survey were used. For the current study, 5347 women who reported a live birth in the five years prior to the survey and who were married or cohabitating at the time of the data collection were selected. Women’s exposure to controlling behaviors by their partners was measured using six questions from the WHO Multi-Country Study on Women’s Health and Domestic Violence against Women.
Area-level variables were constructed by aggregating the individual level exposures to violence into an exposure measurement of the municipality as a whole (n = 142); which is the basic political division in Nicaragua. Multilevel logistic regression was used to analyze the data.
In total, 37.1% of the pregnancies were reported as unintended. After adjusting for all variables included in the model, individual exposure to controlling behavior by a partner (AOR = 1.28, 95% CrI = 1.13–1.44), ever exposure to sexual abuse (AOR = 1.31, 95% CrI = 1.03–1.62), and ever exposure to physical/sexual intimate partner violence (AOR = 1.44, 95% CrI = 1.24–1.66) were significantly associated with unintended pregnancies. Women who lived in municipalities in the highest tertile of controlling behavior by a partner had 1.25 times higher odds of reporting an unintended pregnancy than women living in municipalities in the lowest tertile (AOR = 1.25, 95% CrI = 1.03–1.48).
Nicaraguan women often experience unintended pregnancies, and the occurrence of unintended pregnancies is significantly associated with exposure to different forms of violence against women at both the individual and the municipality level. National policies aiming to facilitate women’s ability to exercise their reproductive rights must include actions aimed at reducing women’s exposures to violence against women.
Epidemiology; Intimate partner violence; Nicaragua; Multilevel; Unintended pregnancies
The editors of BMC Women’s Health would like to thank all our reviewers who have contributed to the journal in Volume 13 (2013).