IJERPH, Vol. 19, Pages 159: “I Had to Rediscover Our Healthy Food”: An Indigenous Perspective on Coping with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus

International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health doi: 10.3390/ijerph19010159

Maya Maor
Moflah Ataika
Pesach Shvartzman
Maya Lavie Ajayi

Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (T2DM) is disproportionally prevalent among the Bedouin minority in Israel, with especially poor treatment outcomes compared to other indigenous groups. This study uses the perspective of the Bedouins themselves to explore the distinct challenges they face, as well as their coping strategies. The study is based on an interpretive interactionist analysis of 49 semi-structured interviews with Bedouin men and women. The findings of the analysis include three themes. First, physical inequality: the Bedouin community’s way of coping is mediated by the transition to a semi-urban lifestyle under stressful conditions that include the experience of land dispossession and the rupture of caring relationships. Second, social inequality: they experience an inaccessibility to healthcare due to economic problems and a lack of suitable informational resources. Third, unique resources for coping with T2DM: interviewees use elements of local culture, such as religious practices or small enclaves of traditional lifestyles, to actively cope with T2DM. This study suggests that there is a need to expand the concept of active coping to include indigenous culture-based ways of coping (successfully) with chronic illness.

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