Traditional Healer Attitudes and Beliefs Regarding Referral of the Mentally Ill to Western Doctors in South Africa

Katherine Sorsdahl, Dan J. Stein, Alan J. Flisher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations

Abstract

Drawing on data collected from 3 focus groups with 24 traditional healers, the aim of this qualitative study was to use the constructs of the Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB) to gain an understanding of traditional healer referral practices of their patients with a mental illness. Results indicated that traditional healers possess a concept of mental illness, mainly referring to a patient behaving abnormally. They often report regularly treating patients with these behaviours. Traditional healer referral to Western care is considered a temporary measure or a last resort. A majority of healers feel that allopathic physicians do not treat them with the respect that they feel their contribution to the health of the community warrants. Recommendations include the need for traditional healers to be trained to identify potential cases of mental illness in their communities and for dialogue between traditional and allopathic physicians in regard to mental health care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)591-609
Number of pages19
JournalTranscultural Psychiatry
Volume47
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2010
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • South Africa
  • Theory of Planned Behaviour
  • mental health
  • traditional healers

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