Sweet and Low: Type 2 Diabetes and Mental Health in Urban Indian Women

Lesley Jo Weaver, Emory University

Ms. Lesley Jo Weaver conducted pilot research in New Delhi, India for her dissertation. In urban India, type 2 diabetes has become exceedingly common, especially in higher socioeconomic female groups, yet very little is known about the everyday experience of managing the condition. Ms. Weaver’s research explores how diabetes and mental health are linked through women’s family and social role expectations. It also explores local conceptions and experiences of mental health problems. Using participant-observation, case studies, a locally-derived questionnaire, and physical measurements, this project assesses women’s ability or inability to fulfill gendered roles identified as important for urban higher-socioeconomic-status women in the context of diabetes and/or compromised mental health. Through her work, Ms. Weaver hopes to draw attention to the significant challenges of type 2 diabetes management for a woman and her family’s mental health status, social functioning, and quality of life, both in India and elsewhere.

The Lemelson/SPA award allowed Ms. Weaver to conduct exploratory research which led to the development of the locally-derived questionnaire, a cornerstone of her dissertation project. This questionnaire will be used in future phases of research to investigate women’s experiences of poor mental health, diabetes, and disability using locally-relevant language and addressing locally-relevant concerns. In addition, she established important research affiliations with institutions and physicians throughout Delhi, with whom she will work during the remainder of her doctoral research.