“Moroccan women at this age accomplished their task in life”Qualitative research into the opinion on health and lifestyle of Dutch-Moroccan older women in The Netherlands
The prevalence of diabetes, hypertension, overweight and obesity is high in older Moroccan women in The Netherlands. They also have a higher risk of polymorbidity than Dutch women without migration background.
This study investigated the opinion of Dutch-Moroccan women on health and lifestyle.
57 women (22-69 years) with a Moroccan background participated in a participatory action research conducted between April and September 2015. Women were recruited by snowball method and with assistance of Moroccan women organizations from Amsterdam, Utrecht, Zaltbommel and Heerlen. Seven ‘natural’ group meetings were organized, followed by 12 in-depth interviews and an observation day (women 40-66 years).
The transcripts were analysed by a thematic content analysis.
This resulted in five themes about health and lifestyle: (1) ‘Generations and lifestyle’, about differences in lifestyle between generations; (2) ‘Wife and aging mother’ and the importance of these identities for their opinion on lifestyle; (3) ‘Diseases and treatment’, in which women identified stress as the most important health problem and use of both Dutch and Moroccan Islamic medical care; (4) ‘Religious and cultural perspectives’, about how diet and daily activities were understood in religious and cultural terms; and (5) ‘ Transnationality’, about the relation with Marocco in daily life.
Health was seen in individual terms in which healthy food and physical activity are central themes; this is not different from the Dutch health discourse. Lifestyle, on the other hand, was often interpreted as a social matter, and was related to the most important social identities: the Moroccan, that of Muslim and that of mother. Lifestyle is not seen as something women could know and control individually. Changes during the life course and getting a disease (or the threat of it) are possible ‘ windows of opportunity ‘ to lifestyle change.
Key words: Ethnicity, health, qualitative research, lifestyle, migrants, Dutch-Moroccan, older women, Participatory action research