Factors Influencing the Use of Biomedical Health Care by Rural Bolivian Anemic Women: Structural Barriers, Reproductive Status, Gender Roles, and Concepts of Anemia
AffiliationUniv Arizona, Sch Anthropol
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherPUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE
CitationFactors Influencing the Use of Biomedical Health Care by Rural Bolivian Anemic Women: Structural Barriers, Reproductive Status, Gender Roles, and Concepts of Anemia 2017, 12 (1):e0170475 PLOS ONE
Rights© 2017 Bedwell et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License
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AbstractThe persistently high prevalence of anemia in rural highland Bolivia argues for targeted iron supplementation. We evaluated the cultural, structural and behavioral factors that may facilitate or impede an anemic woman's decision to secure this biomedical treatment from a rural Bolivian health center. Methods Non-pregnant women from a rural town and its surrounding region were tested for anemia. During phase 1 ( n = 181), anemic women received a written recommendation for low-cost purchase of iron pills at the nearest health center. They were subsequently interviewed on their actions and experiences. Results Estimated anemia prevalence among these non-pregnant women was 50% higher than the national average. Despite holding conceptualizations of anemia generally aligned with biomedical concepts, only 40% of anemic women attempted to obtain iron supplements from the health center. Town residents were about twice as likely to attempt to purchase pills as outside-town residents. Town women who were concurrently breastfeeding and menstruating, considered anemia most serious for women, and considered family health the shared responsibility of spouses were most likely to decide to purchase iron pills. Age, education, or native language did not negatively influence this health care behavior. Conclusions Securing iron supplements involves individual trade-offs in the allocation of time, cost and effort. Nonetheless, suitably tailored programs can potentially harness local perceptions in the service of reducing anemia. Because of their comparatively high motivation to obtain iron supplements, targeting concurrently breastfeeding and menstruating women could have a positive cascade effect such that these women continue attending to their iron needs once they stop breastfeeding and if they become pregnant again. Because a sense of shared responsibility for family health appears to encourage women to attend to their own health, programs for women could involve their spouses. Complementing centralized availability, biomedical and traditional healers could distribute iron supplements on rotating visits to outlying areas and/or at highly attended weekly markets.
NoteOpen Access Journal.
VersionFinal published version
SponsorsU.S. National Science Foundation [SBR 9506107]; Office of the Vice Provost for Research, Indiana University, Bloomington