Health Beliefs of Community Dwelling Older Adults in the United Arab Emirates: A Qualitative Study


There is a paucity of information about the health beliefs that older adults in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) hold. This is a serious omission as understanding people’s ideas about health maintenance and disease prevention informs public health policy and practice. Using a qualitative methodology, twenty-three community dwelling adults aged between sixty and eighty years were interviewed. The data were analyzed to uncover the meanings of health and health beliefs ascribed by the participants within their narratives. Participant narratives revealed representations of health that were in close alignment with previous research. ‘Health as value’ also emerged as a distinct health belief. Analysis of the interview data identified three superordinate themes labeled ‘Health is what you eat’; ‘Health was better in the past’; and ‘Health is from God’ as factors that participants attributed to their health. The implications for the health care system in the UAE are discussed. As the first study of its kind within the UAE, this study provides a solid base from which future studies exploring health beliefs and social representations of health can build upon.

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Support to complete this project was provided by the award of the Zayed University Provost’s Research Fellowship 2011.

Ethical Standards

University ethical approval was sought and given prior to participants being identified and approached to participate. The study was explained in full to each participant. They were informed about the nature of the study and that they would not be identified personally but would be give a pseudonym. They were also informed that the data would be stored securely and only accessible to the research team comprising the interviewer, two other research assistants and the author. Once they had agreed to take part the content of the consent form was also explained in detail. Only after each participant acknowledged they understood what was expected from them, were they invited to sign the consent form.

Conflict of Interest

There are no conflicts of interest. Financial support for the payments made to research assistants was provided from the Zayed University Research Incentive Fund, grant number R0917.

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Correspondence to Carol Campbell.

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Campbell, C. Health Beliefs of Community Dwelling Older Adults in the United Arab Emirates: A Qualitative Study. Ageing Int 40, 13–28 (2015).

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  • Health beliefs
  • Older adults
  • Salutogenesis
  • Sense of coherence
  • United Arab Emirates