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Age of despair or age of hope? Palestinian women's perspectives on midlife health

Hammoudeh, Doaa, Coast, Ernestina ORCID: 0000-0002-8703-307X, Lewis, David ORCID: 0000-0003-0732-9020, Rabaia, Yoke, Leone, Tiziana ORCID: 0000-0001-9671-5382 and Giacaman, Rita (2017) Age of despair or age of hope? Palestinian women's perspectives on midlife health. Social Science & Medicine, 184. pp. 108-115. ISSN 0277-9536

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Identification Number: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2017.05.028


There is limited evidence about women’s experiences of the midlife, beyond a narrow – frequently biomedical – focus on the menopause. The broader (physical, social, cultural, political) dimensions of women’s midlife health are poorly understood, particularly in low and middle-income countries. Our study seeks to understand how women in the West Bank (occupied Palestinian territories) conceptualise, experience and manage their health in the midlife. We generated qualitative evidence using in-depth life history interviews in 2015 with women (n=35) living in the West Bank, analysed thematically. Women’s understandings of good health draw on indigenous and biomedical knowledge and include a calm psychological state, ease of movement, as well as physical appearance and complexion. Exposure to political violence was understood as impacting mental and physical well-being. Most women articulated a positive view about midlife and ageing as a natural process. A range of terms and expressions were suggested by women experiencing this transition, internalised differently according to marital and motherhood status. For many women, the menopause was merely one – often relatively unimportant – aspect of changes associated with ageing. In dealing with midlife health issues women used multiple strategies, or health pluralism, sequentially or simultaneously; drawing on multiple sets of accrued resources. For never-married or childless women, formal healthcare services represented a site of social exclusion. Our evidence highlights the importance of considering the broader dimensions related to midlife health for understanding women’s health maintaining and care-seeking behaviours as they age.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2017 Elsevier
Divisions: Social Policy
Middle East Centre
LSE Health
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Date Deposited: 12 May 2017 08:55
Last Modified: 16 May 2024 02:32

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