Healing Traditions: Alternative Medicine and the Health Professions

By Bonnie Blair O’Connor | Go to book overview

Basic Questions About
Health Systems

For the predominant health belief systems in your locality or represented in your patient population (wherever you ultimately find yourself in practice), gathering information in response to these questions should give you a fairly thorough sense of the systems’ workings, and so facilitate understanding and negotiation. Think of these as research questions. That is, they are not necessarily usable as direct questions to patients, but they identify categories of information it would be helpful to have about any health belief system in order to produce an accurate and fairly complete description.

What are the primary goals of the system? (E.g., prevention of disease; pain control; enhancement of wellness; treatment of chronic disease; spiritual growth; spiritual salvation; preservation of internal and/or external balance or harmony; avoidance of synthetic substances; minimal intervention.)

Who uses the system, or to whom is it primarily accessible? (E.g., members of a particular ethnic or cultural heritage group; people with specific diseases/dysfunctions; members of specific religious denominations; members of specific interest or identity groups.)

How extensive, varied, or specialized are its applications? (E.g., pediatric; general healing; women’s health; geriatric; veterinary; certain conditions only [burns, warts, bleeding, bonesetting, pregnancy and childbirth].)

Adapted from David J. Hufford, “American Healing Systems: An Introduction and
Exploration.” Hershey, PA: Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, Pennsylvania State Uni-
versity Medical School, 1984. Used by permission.

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