Utilization of Traditional Medicine in Oaxaca, Mexico
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Session presented on Monday, July 27, 2015: Purpose: To describe the utilization of traditional medicine and/or the integration with Western medicine for prevention and treatment of illness or health conditions in Oaxaca, Mexico. Methods: This qualitative study used face-to-face interviews with 22 people living in Oaxaca, Mexico. Each interview was conducted by a Spanish speaking nurse educator and audio-taped. Transcripts were translated into English by a fluent Spanish speaking interpreter. Additionally, field notes and demographic characteristics were obtained at each interview. The transcripts and participant characteristics formed the study data. The qualitative transcript data was analyzed using the constant comparative method of joint coding and analysis described by Glaser and Strauss, (1967). Analysis results were completed independently by two researchers, and then verified by a third researcher not involved in the study. Results: Data analysis revealed that the majority of the participants used both traditional and Western medicine. This group used traditional approaches and remedies to stay healthy and to treat non-acute conditions. These treatments most frequently included the use of herbs and healing practices local to the region. Knowledge of traditional remedies is passed from mother to daughter. However, for acute conditions such as infections and trauma, participants sought out Western style medicine from providers located in regional health departments across the state. Many participants reported having to travel long distances to reach one of the regional health departments. A smaller group of participants reported using only traditional medicine. These individuals were more likely to live in remote areas, and were often traditional healers themselves or were the extended family of a healer. For pregnant women experiencing malpositioning of the fetus, that could not be repositioned by a partera, the lack of Western medicine interventions, such as a "C" section, often resulted in death of the baby and/or mother. Conclusion: Residents of Oaxaca, Mexico often use traditional medical practices for health maintenance and prevention of illness while others integrate traditional health practices with Western medical practices. Study participants who utilize both traditional and Western style medicine often do not reveal their use of traditional medicine and/or practices to their Western style medical health care providers. The potential interaction of traditional remedies with Western medicines, such as antibiotics, can cause dangerous reactions that may result in increased morbidity and mortality. Interventions and their appropriate evaluations are needed to ensure that providers are aware of other treatments being used.