237728 Psychological wellbeing among Bedouin women in polygamous marriages

Monday, October 31, 2011

Nihaya Daoud, Mph, PhD , Epidemiology, Faculty of Health Sciences, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Beer Sheva, Israel
Ilana Shoham-Vardi, PhD, MPH , Epidemiology, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Beer Sheva, Israel
Background: Polygamy defined as 'a marital relationship involving multiple wives', is still practiced in many communities worldwide. Polygamy is a public health concern as there are indications that it adversely affects health of women and children in such families. Objective: The study aims to examine the associations between polygamy and self-rated health (SRH) and depressive symptoms (DS), and factors that can mitigate these associations, among Bedouin women in southern Israel Methods: Using a structured questionnaire, a representative sample of 464 Bedouin women was interviewed. Results: Rate of polygamy in our sample was 21.7%. Women in polygamous marriages had poorer SRH (OR=1.86, CI=1.17, 2.93) and as twice higher DS (OR=1.91, CI=1.21, 3.09). In the multivariate analysis, adjustment for a group of socio-economic variables (e.g. women's education, literacy, husband education, household income and household composition) reduced the odds ratio (OR) of the associations between polygamy SRH and DS by 12% and 17% respectively. OR of the same associations was attenuated by 30% and 36% respectively after adjustment for the psychosocial factors (social support, social networks and mastery). When both groups of factors (the socio-economic and psychosocial) were included in the same model, the associations between polygamy and SRH was reduced by 35% and by 44% in the association with DS and it became not significant. Conclusion: Polygamy is a risk factor for women's psychological health. In addition to provide support for women in such marriages social policies need to be more assertive in reducing polygamy as a social norm in different cultures.

Learning Areas:
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related public policy
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
1. Understand how the socio-cultural and economic context of women living in polygamous marriages relates to poor mental health. 2. Identify social policies that can reduce polygamy which is a form of gender discrimination against women and their rights.

Keywords: Culture, Mental Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have worked with Bedouin women on health promotion programs and conducted qualitative and quantitative research on women's health in this community.
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.