Qatari Women's Autonomy and Stress during Pregnancy Open Access

Garvin, Alana (2017)

Permanent URL:


Patriarchal societies are dominant throughout the world, and the level of gender inequality and inequity is particularly high in Qatar.There is strong evidence that globally women's social status is linked with their health outcomes, and current evidence demonstrates that this is also true for mental health. Recently, relatively high levels of antenatal depression have been reported within the Middle East, compared to Western countries, and prevalence of and risk factors for antenatal mental health issues in Qatar are unknown due to a lack of research. Prior research from the Middle East informs us that there are a number of human and social factors associated with mental disorders during pregnancy, and women's agency is a force that likely impacts these factors. In order to better understand pregnant Qatari women's mental health, we examined how Qatari women's decision-making autonomy influences their mental health during pregnancy. Grounded theory was used to analyze 25 in-depth interviews with pregnant Qatari women. The analysis revealed a potential inverse relationship between pregnant Qatari women's decision making-autonomy and their experiences of stress during pregnancy. The women with the least autonomy experienced high continuous stress compared to the women with the greatest autonomy who experienced low and often short-term stress. The pattern was less clear for women with varied autonomy. The analysis also shows that the influences of women's autonomy on experiences of mental health during pregnancy are likely impacted by the marital and social support that women feel and have access to. Further research, including quantitative research, is necessary to further explore the validity of this potential relationship discovered through this exploratory qualitative research. Should it prove valid, action will need to be taken across several different arenas in Qatar, most importantly around women's empowerment both within the family and society and within prenatal care to include or improve screening and treatment for stress, anxiety, and/or depression.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

I. Introduction ...1

II. Literature Review ...7

III. Methods ...26

IV. Results ...35

V. Discussion ...63

VI. Implications ...72

Appendix A ...74

References ...82

About this Master's Thesis

Rights statement
  • Permission granted by the author to include this thesis or dissertation in this repository. All rights reserved by the author. Please contact the author for information regarding the reproduction and use of this thesis or dissertation.
  • English
Research Field
Committee Chair / Thesis Advisor
Committee Members
Partnering Agencies
Last modified

Primary PDF

Supplemental Files