The purpose of this research was to explore selected health-illness beliefs and practices of poor Indian households living in an urban Guatemalan city. The sample consisted of 22 households or 134 individuals. Differences in standards of living among households were related to income, occupation, education, housing and material belongings. Household compositions were classified according to kinship, residence and domestic function. Health beliefs and practices surrounding 13 common illness manifestations were investigated. Prevention, causation and treatment of illness were related to environmental conditions and personal behaviors which influenced the individual's psychophysical state. Concepts of hot-cold and strong-weak underlaid many health and illness beliefs. Sample members described illness symptoms and actions taken in response to illness during a four week period. A total of 135 incidents were reported by the 22 households. Seventy-seven percent of all women, 24 percent of all men and 43 percent of children reported symptoms of illness. Respiratory illnesses were reported most frequently. Of the 135 symptoms, 32 percent were cared for by self and family, while 61 percent were referred to the social networks, pharmacies, indigenous caregivers and religious healers. Western medical services were obtained in 4.5 percent of all illnesses, while traditional practitioners were consulted for 2.5 percent of the symptoms. Treatment by a physician for most kinds of illnesses was considered to offer the highest likelihood of cure. Traditional practitioners often were consulted in conjunction with physicians or if the illness was considered uncomplicated or not amenable to medical treatment. The findings suggest reluctance to use either modern or traditional services was most frequently related to the limited economic means of the sample.
University of Utah;
Health; Indians, Central American;
Cross-Cultural Comparison; Medicine, Traditional;
University of Utah;
Relation-Is Version Of
Digital reproduction of “Dimensions of illness behavior among urban Maya.” Spencer S. Eccles Health Sciences Library. Print version of “Dimensions of illness behavior among urban Maya.” available at J. Willard Marriott Library Special Collection. RA 4.5 1982 B69.