Online Program

“a forever something”: Utilizing photovoice and photo-elicitation to explore the meanings religion creates in the experience of chronic illness among black American women

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Amina Massey, Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA
Background: Although disproportionately high rates of chronic disease are consistently reported among African American women, there are few empirical investigations into how they navigate illness experiences. Women's strategies for coping have the potential to mitigate and/or exacerbate health risks. Purpose: This paper identifies common themes in religious Black women's experiences of chronic illness, explicates the meanings and strategies important in their responses to illness, and describes the effects of these strategies. Methods: Qualitative interviews were conducted with Protestant African American women diagnosed with at least one chronic illness in California's Bay Area. Data was collected through participant observation and Photovoice methodologies designed to facilitate participant-directed research. Interviews utilized photo-elicitation methodologies, in which participants' photographs served as illustrative prompts for descriptions of social and physical experience. Results: In narrative and visual analysis, several themes emerged regarding women's changing relationships to divinity, other people, and themselves. Religious and organizational communities establish structure for members to seek and provide one another with meaningful support, yet also frequently promote interpretations that encourage women to prioritize the needs of others over their own. Changing social expectations and physical abilities constituted an ongoing challenge to each woman's personal identity. Participants characterized faith as an orientation towards possibility in contexts of normalized uncertainty. Discussion: Although costly and ethically demanding, Photovoice and photo-elicitation provide a unique means of understanding the processes of interpretation that inform health behaviors. Insight into collective systems of meaning can facilitate the development of social supports that address the immediate concerns of underserved populations.

Learning Areas:

Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Chronic disease management and prevention
Diversity and culture
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Evaluate the advantages and limitations of participant-directed methodologies, particularly Photovoice and photo-elicitation. Discuss the significance of shared meanings in individual responses to chronic illness. Identify common themes in the experience of chronic illness among Black American women.

Keyword(s): Women's Health, Chronic Illness

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been the co-prinicipal investigator of studies exploring the experiences of chronic illness and chronic care, as well as studies utilizing community-based and participatory research methodologies in the health sciences. I have conducted qualitative research in clinical, organizational, and community settings. As an undergraduate, I began conducting research focusing on the illness experiences of religious Black women in the U.S. and in Northeastern Brazil, which my dissertation continues in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.