Spousal communication on reproductive illness among rural women in southern India
Culture, Health and Sexuality 4(2): 223-236
Publication date: 2002
Successful inter-spousal communication is promoted as a key strategy to fostering shared decision making and responsibilities on reproductive health matters. With data from a large-scale study examining the risk factors of reproductive tract infections (RTIs) in married women, we investigated the extent of inter-spousal communication about reproductive illnesses and its influence on preventive and curative behaviours among 432 symptomatic women and 256 symptomatic men. Data derive from a cross-sectional field investigation conducted in five villages in rural Tamil Nadu in south India. Spousal communication on the experience of symptoms of RTIs was remarkably limited, and it did not have any influence on the preventive behaviour of the symptomatic men/women and their partners. However, the curative behaviour of symptomatic men/women was significantly influenced by spousal communication. Lack of spousal communication seems to be the consequences of the individual and collective perceptions about the causes of symptoms of possible RTIs, cultural norms about acceptable behaviours of men and women, and gender- and non-gender-based inequalities.