Evidence-based recommendations to facilitate professional collaboration between allopathic and traditional health practitioners
Background: Globally, and in South Africa, there is an increased demand for consulting both traditional and allopathic health practitioners. As both health practitioners are working within the same communities, their respective practices could complement or undermine the health of consumers using both health services. Professional collaboration between traditional and allopathic health practitioners is therefore desirable and requires collaboration between the systems, which is currently legislated by the Traditional Health Practitioners Act 22 of 2007. However, in the Eastern Cape, no evidence-based recommendations were found that facilitated the collaborative relationship between the two health practitioner groups.
Purpose of the research: To develop evidence-based recommendations aimed at facilitating professional collaboration between allopathic and traditional health practitioners for the benefit of patients.
Methodology: Descriptive evidence-based recommendations to enhance professional collaboration between both groups of health practitioners were developed based on focus group interviews with allopathic practitioners (n = 10) and individual interviews with traditional health practitioners (n = 18) (traditional health practitioners (n = 14) and traditional healers who are also allopathic health practitioners (n = 4)) practising in the Amathole District in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. Dickoff et al.'s (1968) Survey List was used as a conceptual framework.
Results: Collaboration was hampered by allopathic practitioners demonstrating negative attitudes by not referring patients to traditional practitioners based on lack of knowledge and mutual understanding of each other's practices. Suggestions for collaboration made by both groups resulted in the development of two distinct sets of evidence-based recommendations. The first set of recommendations aims to enhance professional collaboration between both groups of health practitioners. This is done through facilitating mutual understanding based on respect and acceptance between the different practitioners. The second set of recommendations aims to enhance professional collaboration through facilitating open communication between different practitioners.
Conclusion: These evidence-based recommendations can be used to facilitate professional collaboration between allopathic and traditional health practitioners resulting in mutual understanding and open communication, enhancing team work in a multi-professional environment, and ultimately leading to improved patient care.
Keywords: Allopathic health practitioners, Traditional health practitioners, Collaboration, Evidence-based recommendations, South Africa
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