A Voice To Be Heard. Social Barriers Impacting on Dietary Modification: The Experiences of Women of African Descent with Type 2 Diabetes

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Bruhier, Deborah
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Although Nova Scotia has one of the highest populations of people of African descent in Canada, health research on this population is limited. Women of African descent have a high risk of developing type 2 diabetes, and are also at increased risk of experiencing greater difficulty with the physiological management of diabetes, which can lead to serious complications. While careful attention to dietary choices can help manage type 2 diabetes, social barriers often arise for women of African descent when considering food choices. The purpose of this research was to examine the social barriers affecting dietary modification of type 2 diabetes experienced by women of African descent in the Halifax Regional Municipality. This qualitative study used the methodology of phenomenology to understand African women’s experiences with type 2 diabetes. Purposive sampling was used to interview nine women in a face-to-face interview. Black feminist thought as a critical social theory was the theoretical framework used to guide analysis of the data. Ten themes were identified as barriers in the literature and confirmed by the women in this study. Of the ten themes, the following four: (1.) Poverty/Low Socio-Economic Status; (2.) Role of Women in Families (Gender)/Family Relationships and Norms; (3.) Racism and its Effects on Health; and (4.) Cultural Meaning of Food/Taste of Food provided the largest amount of data. Although these four themes were identified as separate barriers, data from the women revealed that many themes intersected with one another, especially race, class and gender. Particularly, this study revealed that racism was a key barrier affecting African women’s lives as they live with type 2 diabetes. This research highlights the importance of cultural competence. Cultural competence is required not only at the individual level, provided by the heath care professional, but also at the organizational and system level, to better meet the health care needs of African women living with type 2 diabetes.
Non-Insulin-Dependant Diabetes , Diet Therapy , Racism - Health Aspects , Nova Scotia , Black Women