Cultural concepts of tuberculosis and gender among the general population without tuberculosis in rural Maharashtra, India

Trop Med Int Health. 2004 Nov;9(11):1228-38. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-3156.2004.01321.x.


Gender-specific patterns of experience, meaning, and behaviour for tuberculosis (TB) require consideration to guide control programmes. To clarify concepts of gender, culture, and TB in a rural endemic population of Maharashtra, India, this study of 80 men and 80 women employed qualitative and quantitative methods of cultural epidemiology, using a locally adapted semi-structured Explanatory Model Interview Catalogue (EMIC) interviews are instruments for cultural epidemiological study of the distribution of illness-related experiences, meanings, and behaviours. This interview queried respondents without active disease about vignettes depicting a man and woman with typical features of TB. Emotional and social symptoms were frequently reported for both vignettes, but more often considered most distressing for the female vignette; specified problems included arranging marriages, social isolation, and inability to care for children and family. Job loss and reduced income were regarded most troubling for the male vignette. Men and women typically identified sexual experience as the cause of TB for opposite-sex vignettes. With wider access to information about TB, male respondents more frequently recommended allopathic doctors and specialty services. Discussion considers the practical significance of gender-specific cultural concepts of TB.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health
  • Culture*
  • Employment
  • Female
  • Health Education / methods
  • Humans
  • Income
  • India
  • Male
  • Marriage
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / psychology
  • Prejudice
  • Prognosis
  • Rural Health
  • Sex Factors
  • Sexual Behavior
  • Social Isolation
  • Social Problems
  • Tuberculosis / etiology
  • Tuberculosis / physiopathology
  • Tuberculosis / psychology*