Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy

Program

Geography

Supervisor

Dr. Isaac Luginaah

Abstract

The dissertation aims to examine the impacts of probiotic yoghourt on health, nutrition and women’s empowerment within the context of HIV/AIDS in Kenya. Mixed methods that combine quantiative and qualitative approaches are used to understand the effects of probiotic yoghourt on the health, nutrition and quality of life for men and women. Results of the quantiative analysis (n=227) demonstrated that the probiotic yoghourt confers a variety of health benefits – physiological (fewer urogenital conditions and digestive problems; reduced dependence on medical treatment), and psychological (perceived improvements with bodily appearance, felt an increased meaningfulness with life). Results of the qualitative analysis (n=26) revealed an overall improved quality of life based on the six domains of the WHOQOL assessment tool.

A supplemental qualtiative study and analysis that examines the ways in which this health and development initiative promotes empowerment, social and economic development revealed that while there are substantial and important direct and indirect benefits, there are challenges with group dynamics, class, and power structures.

Theoretically, the study highlights the need to revisit the group approach of health and development projects. While this method undebiably empowers the women at the individual level within a number of domains, the group structure can be cosnidered to counteract some of the gains and positive effects. Methodologically, the research shows the value of employing a mixed methods design. Usually, biomedical research using clinical study designs do not adopt mixed methods to describe the experiences of the participants. Building on the survey findings, deeper and richer insights into the impacts of the probiotic yoghourt on the health and quality of life of participants is gained. Lastly, the findings from this research provides a platform for policy makers to re-examine the importance and need to incorporate nutritional support programmes that are holistic and mutli-faceted, targeting marginalized groups.


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