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Pulled in or pushed out? Understanding the complexities of health beliefs and motivations for traditional medicine utilisation in Ghana

The impact of strong cultural beliefs on specific reasons for traditional medicine (TRM) use among individuals and populations has long been advanced in health care and spatiomedical literature. Yet, little has been done in Ghana and the Ashanti Region in particular to bring out the precise “pull” and “push” relative influences on TRM utilisation. With a qualitative research approach involving rural and urban character, the study explored health beliefs and motivations for TRM use in Kumasi Metropolis and Sekyere South District, Ghana. The study draws on data from 36 in-depth interviews with adults, selected through theoretical sampling. We espouse the a posteriori inductive reduction model to derive broad themes and sub-themes. The “pull factors”—perceived benefits in TRM use vis-à-vis the “push factors”—perceived poor services of the biomedical treatments were ascribed to the growing trends in TRM use. The result however indicates that the “pull factors”, viz., personal health beliefs, desire to take control of one’s health, perceived efficacy and safety of various modalities of TRM were stronger in shaping TRM use. Poor access to conventional medicine accounted for the differences in TRM use between rural and urban prefectures. We develop a conceptual framework for studies on motivation for TRM utilisation in Ashanti Region, Ghana. This framework may help clarify the complex inter-relationships between pull and push mechanisms in TRM utilisation. Understanding the treatment and health-seeking behaviour of a cultural-related group is critical for developing and sustaining traditional therapy in Ghana.


Razak Mohammed Gyasi

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