HEALTH AND ILLNESS EXPERIENCES OF AFRICAN CARIBBEAN WOMEN AND MEN: A STUDY IN EAST LONDON.
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This thesis explores how gender can affect experiences of health and illness, with the understanding that gender is constructed differently across the life course, and is mediated by 'race' and class relations in Britain. Research was conducted with a small sample of informants drawn from African-Caribbean community groups in east London, using focus groups and in-depth interviews. Findings are three-fold. First, participation in health research itself was problematic for informants, relating directly to their experiences of personal and institutional racism in Britain. Evidence showed that these experiences encouraged informants to use public accounts of health and illness when more structured research methods were used. In-depth interviews encouraged informants to develop more private accounts of their illness experiences. A second finding was that social relations and low social status were often implicated in private accounts as contributing factors to illness. Women and men felt that racialised experiences, especially in the workplace, were problematic for black people collectively. Older female informants also connected personal health problems to their efforts in fulfilling the more traditional expectations of women in the home, family and workplace. Finally there is evidence that women and men have developed a variety of strategies to mediate the impact that social circumstances may have on their health. Some strategies influenced the way that illness discourses themselves were constructed, whilst others focused on building self-esteem through Caribbean or Black identity, or through developing a sense of 'self. ' Besides these findings, the methodology of this study is discussed. This was developed in response to the sensitive nature of the racialised research context. Key concerns have been to develop trust and rapport with informants, and to offer them the opportunity to comment critically on this research project and its findings. It was felt that this approach enhanced the insight into informants' reporting and understandings of health and illness. Conclusions of this research have theoretical, methodological and policy implications. Most topical are implications relevant to east London's Health Action Zone strategy. There are specific recommendations for understanding the mental health needs for African-Caribbean communities, and for developing appropriate ways to involve these communities in this initiative and offering them better access to information.
AuthorsLawson, Kim Ann
- Theses