Understanding women's burdens: Preliminary findings on psychosocial health among Datoga and Iraqw women of northern Tanzania

Ivy L. Pike, Crystal L. Patil

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


This preliminary, community-based study examines major stressors identified by Iraqw and Datoga women of Mbulu District, Tanzania, and describes steps in creating a culturally specific questionnaire to assess mental health burdens. This area of Tanzania is remote, with limited access to goods and services, and is undergoing dramatic social and economic changes. Iraqw and Datoga reside in close proximity and often intermarry but have different cultural and subsistence responses to this rapid social change. Data were collected from May to October 2002, with 49 Datoga women and 64 Iraqw women interviewed. In-home interviews were conducted to have women (1) free-list their primary concerns and (2) answer questions from a translated (in Datoga and Iraqw) and modified standardized mental health questionnaire. Both groups of women identified hunger, the lack of animals, particularly cattle, and health/illnesses as the most common major stressors. Other frequently cited stressors included crop failure, general fears of violence, paying taxes, and no money for basic needs. Additional refinements are required for the mental health questionnaire, with strengths and limitations discussed. Such data, while preliminary, augment efforts to analyze the emotional burdens associated with dramatic social change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)299-330
Number of pages32
JournalCulture, Medicine and Psychiatry
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2006


  • Cross-cultural psychiatry
  • Mental health
  • Pastoralism
  • Psychosocial stress
  • Women's health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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