Title: Social capital and use of folk and herbal medicine by older women in Almaty, Kazakhstan

Authors: Thomas T.H. Wan, Askar Chukmaitov

Addresses: Public Affairs Doctoral Program, College of Health and Public Affairs, University of Central Florida, 3280 Progress Drive, Orlando, FL 32826–0544, USA. ' Division of Health Affairs, Department of Family Medicine and Rural Health, College of Medicine, Florida State University Tallahassee, Florida, USA

Abstract: Factors influencing women who seek folk healers for care and who use herbal medicine are not well understood. The influence of social capital and cultural factors on utilisation behaviour of three ethnic groups – Kazakhs, Russians and Koreans – in Almaty, Kazakhstan, was investigated. It was postulated that seeing a folk healer was positively associated with the use of herbal medicine when the effects of social and cultural factors were simultaneously controlled. Our findings show that there were ethnic differences among those seeking folk healers for care. Social capital and cultural factors influenced the use of folk healers in the Korean group, but not in other ethnic groups. However, Kazakh and Russian groups were comparable in their utilisation behaviours. Irrespective of ethnic groups, there was a positive relationship between seeing folk healers and using herbal medicine. These findings can be used to design culturally sensitive health promotion and health evaluation programmes targeted to women and their folk healers. Improving the knowledge and understanding how herbal medicine affects personal health in different ethnic groups are essential to promoting these women|s community health.

Keywords: folk healers; herbal medicine; utilisation behaviours; ethnic groups; social capital; cultural factors; cultural sensitivity; health promotion; health evaluation programmes; women|s health; Kazakhstan; older women; Kazakhs; Russians; Koreans.

DOI: 10.1504/IJPP.2007.012904

International Journal of Public Policy, 2007 Vol.2 No.3/4, pp.217 - 234

Published online: 23 Mar 2007 *

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