Award Date

5-2011

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Anthropology

Department

Anthropology

First Committee Member

Peter Gray, Chair

Second Committee Member

Heidi Swank

Third Committee Member

Daniel Benyshek

Graduate Faculty Representative

Cortney Warren

Number of Pages

138

Abstract

This thesis research focuses on urban women in India diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). PCOS is a complex metabolic, endocrine and reproductive disorder affecting approximately 5-10% of the female population in developed countries. The prevalence of PCOS is on the rise in developing nations like India, which are undergoing rapid nutritional transitions due to Westernized diets and lifestyle. However, less appreciated in the literature are the developmental psychosocial impacts for women diagnosed with PCOS, especially in developing countries. Thus, the goal of my thesis research was to contribute to the small but growing literature by investigating psychosocial dimensions of women with PCOS in the developing urban areas of Delhi, India.

Using a mixed method case-control study design, I investigated gender identity, psychological general health and well being (PGWB), and body image. A total of 65 (33 PCOS, 32 control) urban Indian woman from Delhi NCR (National Capital Region) were recruited from a North Delhi gynecology clinic, and by word of mouth. All 65 women completed the survey, 5 of them (3 PCOS, 2 control) completed the semi-structured interview, and 4 of those 5 allowed me to complete participant observation with them.

No statistical differences between PCOS and control groups were observed for the quantitative measures of the survey once body mass index, waist circumference and other covarying demographic variables were controlled for. However, the qualitative results suggest a more complex illustration of possible psychosocial differences between PCOS and control participants, especially in regard to body image.

Despite intriguing qualitative results, more nuanced and in-depth quantitative and qualitative work is needed to verify whether urban Indian women with PCOS contend with discrete biopsychosocial trajectories of health and well-being. Future research is warranted on cross-cultural conceptualization of PCOS as well as the relevance of marital status, geographic location, socioeconomic status, diet, lifestyle and attitudes about health to the psychosocial experience of PCOS.

Keywords

Biopsychosocial; Body image; Body image in women; Developing countries; India; Obesity; Polycystic ovary syndrome – Psychological aspects; Psychosocial; Reproduction; Reproductive; Westernization

Disciplines

Anthropology | Biological and Physical Anthropology | Obstetrics and Gynecology | Social and Cultural Anthropology | Women's Studies

Language

English