Challenges facing minority women in achieving good health: Voices of Arab women in Israel

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Abstract

Arab women citizens of Israel bear a heavier burden of health problems compared with Jewish women. These inequalities were examined by conducting 6 focus groups that explored obstacles to achieving good health and strategies for maintaining good health as articulated by 86 Arab-Moslem women from the Triangle area in central Israel. Perceived obstacles ranged from personal to sociopolitical: unhealthy lifestyles, obedience to patriarchal norms, rapid lifestyle transitions, the political situation, poverty and lower socioeconomic status, and limited access to specific health care services. These multi-layered obstacles appeared to operate synergistically to limit women's access to social support and health care systems, intensify feelings of powerlessness, and further promote unhealthy behaviors. Moreover, these perceptions differed by the socioeconomic status of the group. The relatively more advantaged groups did not address issues related to poverty or access to health care services. Most health maintenance strategies discussed were personal and conservative, and 'considerate' of traditional Arab cultural norms. The findings provide a basis for developing more culturally competent and adequate health care services for Arab women in Israel and for further research concerning Arab women's health in the region.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)145-166
Number of pages22
JournalWomen and Health
Volume48
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2008

Keywords

  • Arab women in Israel
  • Focus groups
  • Health inequalities
  • Obstacles to good health
  • Patriarchy

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