Conceptions of illness, help seeking pathways and attitudes towards an integrated health care system : perspectives from psychological counsellors, traditional healers and health care users.
Zondo, Siyabulela Felicia.
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Perceptions of health and illness which include the perceived cause and recourse play an important role in diagnosis and management of illness. Traditional and allopathic medicines are used simultaneously and sometimes without the knowledge of the health professional and this has an impact on clinical outcomes. Overlooking patients’ subjective experience, health providers’ biases and prejudice may pose a negative impact on clinical outcomes. This study explores patients’, traditional healers’ and psychological counselors’ perception of illness by conducting interviews and administering open-ended questionnaires. The data is analyzed both qualitatively and quantitatively through the use of content analysis and non-parametric statistical procedures. The results indicate that the concept of illness is complex and multidimensional with physical and socio-spiritual aspects. Effective management requires a joint approach between indigenous and western health systems. The results further show that traditional healers fully embrace the integrated health approach while there is some skepticism and uncertainty from psychological counselors which could be stemming from their training. There is still work to be done in terms of health planning and policy but also the training of health professionals.
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