182446 A study with South Asian immigrant women on spousal abuse and help-seeking

Monday, October 27, 2008: 2:30 PM

Farah Ahmad, MBBS, MPH, PhD , Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada
Natasha Driver, MHSc , St. Michael's Hospital, Toronto, ON, Canada
Mary Jane McNally, RN, MN , Department of Nursing, Toronto Western Hospital, Toronto, ON, Canada
Donna E. Stewart, MD, FRCPC , Women's Health Program, University Health Network, Toronto, ON, Canada
Objectives: To explore the experiences and perceptions of South Asian (SA) immigrant women about sources to seek help for health problems in the context of spousal abuse. Methods: Three focus groups were conducted in Hindi language with SA immigrant women who had experiences of spousal abuse within the last two years and were visiting counsellors at community based agencies in Toronto. Data were collected by audio taping of the discussions and field notes. Thematic analysis was conducted on the transcribed data using constant comparison techniques within and across the groups. Results: Twenty-two women participated with a mean age of 46 years (range 29 to 68). Majority of the participants had children (96%) and one-third (36%) were employed. Three major themes emerged from the discussions: delayed help-seeking, turning points and talking to physicians. Women expressed delaying help-seeking to the point when “Pani sar se guzar jata he” (water crosses over your head). Their dominant reasons for delayed help-seeking were social stigma, rigid gender roles, marriage obligations, expected silence, loss of social support after migration and limited knowledge about available resources. They turned for help only after experiencing pronounced mental and physical health problems. Women discussed their experiences of partner abuse with their physicians only if they trusted him/her and the physician was perceived to have strong listening skills and cross-cultural understanding. Conclusion: Socio-culturally sensitive outreach initiatives are needed to enhance awareness about spousal abuse and available services. Caring attitudes of providers and vigilance could reduce delayed help-seeking among SA abused women.

Learning Objectives:
1. Recognize the help-seeking patterns and barriers among abused South Asian immigrant women. 2. Discuss the implications for community-based and practice-based programs, policy and research.

Keywords: Battered Women, Immigrant Women

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I conceptulaized the idea, contributed in obtaining funds, coordinated data collection and analyzed data with others.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.