A study of the relation between health attitudes, values and beliefs and help-seeking behaviour with special reference to a representative sample of black patients attending a general hospital.
Pillay, Basil Joseph.
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There is strong evidence supporting the view that beliefs and attitudes influence health behaviour. Furthermore, cultural and social beliefs also have been shown to influence the way health care facilities are used. Although western medicine plays a dominant role in the mass control of disease, traditional or folk medicine continues to play an important role in the health care of black communities. They therefore, possess unique attitudes, values and beliefs about health and illness which integrally influence their health behaviour. This study aims therefore to: understand phenomenologically the urban African’s perception of illness, disease and health; identify attitudes that directly influence health behaviour: identify “trigger factors” that precipitate health action and isolate factors that contribute to “negative” health behaviour. The sample in this study consisted of 3 groups of urban Africans who were 20 years and older. Group 1 comprised first time attenders to a medical outpatients department Group 2 and Group 3 were sample groups drawn from the Umlazi Township and the Kwa Mashu Township respectively. The Health and Illness Battery in the language of the participants were administered by trained interviewers. This study has demonstrated the following: urban Africans have a personal conception of illness, health and disease that influences their manner of help‐seeking; there are certain attitudes and beliefs that directly influence both positive and negative health behaviour;. there are several health beliefs which interact in a complex way and may lead to medical help‐seeking. Health action was found to be influenced by significant individuals in the subject's environment; demographic variables, such as, age, sex, education and urbanisation strongly influence the health and illness beliefs; these results validated some of the fundamental aspects of the common western health and illness models; the use of services and facilities are determined by the location, accessibility and the quality of services; financial costs, time, transport, lack of community supports, negatively affected helpseeking; symptoms have been identified as a “trigger factor” of help‐seeking. Individuals use other forms of treatments independent of medical treatments. A model of help‐seeking for urban Africans is proposed.
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