'I am not being awkward' A hermeneutic phenomenological study on the lived experiences of south asian muslim women with urinary incontinence

Sange, Chandbi (2009) 'I am not being awkward' A hermeneutic phenomenological study on the lived experiences of south asian muslim women with urinary incontinence. Doctoral thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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Urinary incontinence is not a topic that is openly discussed in any society. Rather it remains a subject that attracts social stigma, isolation and embarrassment that inevitably restricts individuals seeking health care.
Previous research conducted in this area provides useful information about the causes, complications, contributing factors, management options and outcomes. However, this research has predominantly been conducted in the White female population. Little is known about the effects of urinary incontinence within specific ethnic groups. Even less is known about the impact of UI in religiously motivated groups, such as the Muslim communities.
This study helps to explore these insights, and aims to explore the religious and cultural influences on help-seeking behaviour and decision-making within South Asian Muslim women and the 'meaning' of urinary incontinence.
This is a hermeneutic phenomenological study. Forty-one South Asian Muslim women living in the Northwest of England were interviewed using an open-ended interviewing technique. All interviews were tape recorded, and took between 1 to 2 hours to complete, as the data was allowed to unfold naturally and took a conversational style.
Twenty-six interviews were translated into English from the original language of Urdu and Punjabi, the remaining fifteen were conducted in English. Transcribed and analysed data was then interpreted using the philosophical underpinning of phenomenology.
The search for meaning in the text, and interpretation of the data resulted in the development of six major themes; 'it's the norm'; 'it's like a hush hush thing'; 'me, my family and I'; 'my religion my identity'; 'it's not cancer'; and 'get myself checked out'. Within each of the major themes sub-themes emerged.
Clearly articulated was a balancing act; on one end of the scale was the participant and their health, and on the other was the family - which included cultural traits and religious beliefs, practices and views. In order to understand what these women are describing I draw upon Antonovsky's 'salutogensis' model and the 'five-fold medical knowledge' concept by Young, both of which gear towards the subjective interpretations that individuals apply to health, illness and wellness.
A number of recommendations are made and suggestions for future research are also included as a result of the findings from this study.

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