Comparative Health Status of Women of Childbearing Age in Urban and Non-urban Communities in Malaysia

*Corresponding author: Sangeeta K. Singh, DH Fadil Azim and Warren Thomas*

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original research

Abstract

Background
Women’s health and access to healthcare can be affected by diverse factors such as affluence, cultural norms and availability of healthcare resources. In this study, we compared health status parameters among women of childbearing age from different ethnic groups living in urban and non-urban communities in Malaysia.
Methods
Women under the age of 45-years in urban and non-urban areas of Malaysia were invited to participate in this study. In total, 1500 women were approached, and of these 1435 agreed to participate and met our inclusion criteria. Information about personal healthcare, communication with healthcare practitioners, sources of health information, health concerns, weight management, as well as socio-demographic characteristics were obtained using a questionnaire which was adapted from the Women’s Health National Survey 2016 of Australia.
Results
Women of Indian descent made up a higher proportion of respondents in non-urban areas. Women in non-urban areas were less likely to have a higher-level education and belonged to households with a lower annual income. Non-urban respondents were also more likely to be married and to have more children. Women from non-urban locations were less likely to be overweight or exhibit sedentary behaviors. Women from non-urban sites were more interested in improving their health status, more likely to attend routine health checks, and less likely to use dietary supplements.
Conclusion
Women from non-urban areas exhibit healthier behaviours than their urban counterparts and have a lower prevalence of obesity. This is despite poorer access to healthcare provision in rural communities.
Keywords
Malaysia; Healthcare; Women’s health; Rural health; Health partnership.