Di Virgilio MM. Vida cotidiana y estrategias familiares en salud en el contexto de la pobreza urbana. El caso de mujeres del barrio Inta. [Daily life and family health strategies in the context of urban poverty. The case of women in the Inta neighborhood.] Salud Problema [Health as a Problem] 1999 December; 4(7): 83-98.

Objectives: To analyze the ideas, experiences, and actions of poor women in relation to conditions of health-illness that they and/or other members of their households suffer, in a slum located in Buenos Aires , Argentina .

Methodology: Qualitative-quantitative.

Results: The contradiction that domestic and work roles posed for poor women emerged throughout the interviews. A combination of household tasks and work outside the home put the women’s health at risk. The risk was greater than that of women who remain unemployed. In addition to the difficulties imposed on them by having to perform multiple roles, the women enjoyed few possibilities for relaxation. Their neighborhood did not contain organizations that could offer them recreational activity.

Illnesses affecting other household members created serious disturbances in the daily routines of the women, especially for those who worked outside the home. Such women found themselves obligated to miss work, which in many cases threatened their job status. Moreover, the illness of another household member increased their own housework, which heightened tensions in the family and work relationships. When they themselves became sick, complications increased still further. Depending on their type of medical coverage, the women manifested different modes of using or not using health services. Some women opted for home remedies in caring for themselves.

Among the factors that influenced their use or non-use of public-sector health services, the women pointed to geographic proximity; facilities in the neighborhood did not offer complete services.

The women showed a critical capacity to use information about the healthcare system. Such capacity, which formed part of the women’s “cultural capital,” derived from their level of knowledge and awareness, earlier contacts with the healthcare system, and networks of social support.

Conclusions: In strategies that poor women employ with respect to health, both their own and that of their families, cultural capital shaped their differing capacities to use healthcare services.

Copyright 2007 University of New Mexico