Pan African Medical Journal

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Health-care seeking behaviour and the use of traditional medicine among persons with type 2 diabetes in south-western Uganda: A study of focus group interviews

F Atwine, S Hultsjö, B Albin, K Hjelm


Introduction: Health-care seeking behaviour is important as it determines acceptance of health care and outcomes of chronic conditions but it has been investigated to a limited extent among persons with diabetes in developing countries. The aim of the study was to explore health-care
seeking behaviour among persons with type 2 diabetes to understand reasons for using therapies offered by traditional healers.

Methods: Descriptive study using focus-group interviews. Three purposive focus-groups were conducted in 2011 of 10 women and 7 men aged 39–72 years in Uganda. Data were collected through semi-structured interviews and qualitatively analysed according to a method described for focus-groups.

Results: Reasons for seeking help from traditional healers were symptoms related to diabetes such as polydipsia, fatigue and decreased sensitivity in lower limbs. Failure of effect from western medicine was also reported. Treatment was described to be unknown extracts, of locally made products taken as herbs or food, and participants had sought help from different health facilities with the help of relatives and friends.

Conclusion: The pattern of seeking care was inconsistent, with a switch between different health care providers under the influence of the popular and folk sectors. Despite beliefs in using different healthcare providers seeking complementary and alternative medicine, participants still experienced many physical health problems related to diabetes  complications. Health professionals need to be aware of the risk of switches
between different health care providers, and develop strategies to initiate health promotion interventions to include in the care actors of significance to the patient from the popular, folk and professional sectors, to maintain continuity of effective diabetes care.

AJOL African Journals Online