I study the relationships between type 2 diabetes, women’s gendered social roles, and mental health in North and South India. This ongoing work has engaged over 400 women to date. Because I view health and illness as both biological and social phenomena, my research employs a mixed-method biocultural approach. I use methods that measure people’s beliefs, behaviors, and biological states to obtain a holistic picture of how illness states arise from and respond to social conditions, with a particular focus on women’s roles and relationships within their families.
Some key findings of the research:
- Women in India use locally specific language to discuss distress in non-stigmatizing terms.
- Women with diabetes had levels of depression and anxiety symptoms that were no different from their non-diabetic peers.
- This is counter to much research in medicine, which has demonstrated higher depression among people with diabetes.
- Women with diabetes in Dr. Weaver’s study had poor blood sugar control, but they managed to maintain involvement in important gendered tasks that they identified as key aspects of their domestic lives, such as domestic labor and emotional management of the family.
- Dr. Weaver and colleagues think that women’s ability to remain involved in important gender-specific social roles may buffer their mental health, allowing them to avoid depression and anxiety even though their diabetes is not well-controlled.
- This points to the importance of gendered social roles for health and wellbeing.
Please visit my publications page for more information on the results of this research.