‘Nesef Doctora’—When mothers are considered to be ‘half-doctors’: Self-medication with antibiotics and gender roles in the Arab society in Israel

Maram Khazen, Nurit Guttman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This qualitative study focuses on self-medication with antibiotics as it relates to gender roles and traditions in the Arab society in Israel, a collectivist minority with defined traditional gender norms. Its findings draw on the analysis of 116 face-to-face interviews with 60 pharmacists, 27 primary care physicians and 29 community members, mainly mothers and unmarried women, from different geographical localities. The findings describe how mothers are assigned the role of the family health caretakers, expected to abide to a hierarchical power structure, and listen to the advice of ‘senior mothers’. These expectations can lead to mothers self-medicating their children and themselves with antibiotics. Traditional constraints associated with sexuality were also found to compel unmarried women to self-medicate. The findings point to a duality of power in family relations: women submit to having limited power in traditional gender roles but are accorded power as medical experts in health-care decision-making. The study concludes with recommendations for considering sociocultural factors of hierarchy, traditions and collectivist orientation when researching self-care patterns and developing interventions to curtail antibiotics overuse. It also points to the importance of recognising pressures exerted on unmarried women and enabling them to use health-care resources in their community for managing sexual health.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)408-423
Number of pages16
JournalSociology of Health and Illness
Volume43
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2021

Keywords

  • collectivist minority
  • gender roles
  • self-medication
  • unmarried women
  • vertical collectivism
  • work-motherhood conflict

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of '‘Nesef Doctora’—When mothers are considered to be ‘half-doctors’: Self-medication with antibiotics and gender roles in the Arab society in Israel'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this