A descriptive study to find out psychiatric morbidity among Gogo women in polygamous and monogamous union in Dodoma - Tanzania
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The main objective for this study was to find out psychiatric morbidity among the Gogo women coming from polygamous and monogamous families and the factors contributing to their development. Literature review showed that research work by medical professionals in this field is very scanty and often very difficult to interpret because of lack of comparable studies. However, from the few studies reviewed, there is universal agreement that polygamy status causes considerable emotional distress. This descriptive study covered 150 cases of Gogo women married to polygamous husbands who attended the out-patient clinic at Chamwino Health Centre in Dodoma and 150 controls of Gogo women from monogamous union also attending the same clinic in Tanzania. The study and the control population were obtained by a systematic sampling method and were subjected to a two stage screening procedure by the author. The data collected was analysed manually. Psychiatric morbidity among the women married to polygamous men was 48% compared to 15.2% among the control group. The prevalence of mental illness was significantly higher among women from polygamous union than the control 2 group, x = (5.567,' df = 1, P = 0.01): The leading diagnosis was that of depression followed by anxiety. The prevalence rates of the study and the control populations were compared with those of community studies and found some significance difference. The possible reasons for such a difference are discussed. The pattern of the symptom presentation of the illness among the two groups was however not significantly different from those of other community studies done elsewhere in Africa. The study did not identify specific factors which contributed to the development of mental illness in women married to polygamous husbands. From this study it is obvious that women married to polygamous husbands have a problem as far as their mental health is concerned and that there is need for a well planned mental health service for women married to polygamous husbands in Dodoma. The author has formulated some recommendations which also clarify the role of the country and voluntary agencies in the promotion of the mental health of married women.