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Slovenian Journal of Public Health

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Health beliefs and practices among Slovenian Roma and their response to febrile illnesses: a qualitative study

Danica Pavlič1 / Erika Zelko1 / Janko Kersnik1, / Verica Lolić1

Faculty of Medicine, Department of Family Medicine, University of Ljubljana, Poljanski nasip 58, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia1

Faculty of Medicine, Department of Family Medicine, University of Maribor, Slomškov trg 15, 2000 Maribor, Slovenia2

Private General Practice, Roška cesta 18, 1330 Kočevje, Slovenia3

This content is open access.

Citation Information: Slovenian Journal of Public Health. Volume 50, Issue 3, Pages 169–174, ISSN (Online) 1854-2476, ISSN (Print) 0351-0026, DOI: 10.2478/v10152-010-0041-6, July 2011

Publication History

Published Online:
2011-07-11

Health beliefs and practices among Slovenian Roma and their response to febrile illnesses: a qualitative study

Introduction: When the Roma fell ill in the past, they used herbal home remedies to treat diseases. If the remedy failed to cure the illness, they called the local healer. Today, most Roma visit physicians. This study investigates health beliefs and practices held by the Roma people in Slovenia and their response to febrile illnesses.

Methods: Field interviews using a semi-structured questionnaire were conducted in the vicinity of Kočevje. Sociodemographic data were gathered and recorded manually, and the interviews were tape recorded. Qualitative analysis was performed by three researchers. Special attention was paid to data validation.

Results: The majority of Roma are not acquainted with thermometers and therefore do not use them. About one-third of the interviewees knew what the normal body temperature should be. Only 15% of the Roma population take their body temperature when they are feeling unwell. One-half visit their physicians. More than half of the population take paracetamol or aspirin when they feel feverish. More often, they resort to tea and emphasize the healing effect of sweating.

Conclusion: The Roma beliefs and practices regarding health and fever are instructive and show how impoverished a narrow biomedical approach can be. Failure to use technical devices, such as thermometers, and lack of familiarity with the numerical values defining the border between normal and elevated body temperature, nonetheless do not mean that the Roma take inappropriate measures in response to illness. Illnesses (including fever) can also be recognized without these tools and can be appropriately responded to by drinking teas, using compresses, and taking fever-reducing medications.

Stališča in Ravnanje Romov v Sloveniji v Zvezi z Vročinskimi Stanji: Kvalitativna Študija

Uvod: V preteklosti so Romi za zdravljenje uporabljali domače zeliščne pripravke. Kadar ta zdravila niso bila učinkovita, so poklicali lokalnega zdravilca. Danes večina Romov obišče zdravnika. V prispevku ugotavljamo, kakšno je prepričanje in ravnanje slovenskih Romov v zvezi z zdravjem in kako ukrepajo pri vročinskih stanjih.

Metode: V okolici Kočevja smo na terenu izvedli intervjuje na osnovi polstrukturiranih vprašalnikov. Zbrane sociodemografske podatke smo ročno zapisovali, pogovore pa smo posneli. Kvalitativno analizo podatkov so izvedli trije raziskovalci. Posebno pozornost smo namenili validaciji podatkov.

Rezultati: Večina Romov ne pozna termometra in ga zato tudi ne uporablja. Približno ena tretjina vprašanih je vedela, kakšna naj bi bila normalna telesna temperatura. Ob slabem počutju si le 15 odstotkov romskega prebivalstva meri telesno temperaturo. Polovica jih obišče zdravnika. Več kot polovica romskih prebivalcev vzame paracetamol ali aspirin, kadar ima vročino. Pogosteje se zatečejo k pitju čaja in poudarjajo zdravilne učinke potenja.

Zaključek: Prepričanja in ravnanje Romov v zvezi z zdravjem in povišano telesno temperaturo so poučna in nam kažejo, kako osiromašen je lahko ozko usmerjeni biomedicinski pristop. Dejstvo, da Romi ne uporabljajo tehničnih pripomočkov, npr. termometra, in ne poznajo številčne vrednosti, ki loči med normalno in povišano telesno temperaturo, še ne pomeni, da ob bolezni ravnajo neustrezno. Bolezenska stanja, tudi povišano telesno temperaturo, lahko prepoznamo tudi brez teh orodij in se jim ustrezno postavimo po robu s pitjem čaja, z uporabo obkladkov in z jemanjem zdravil proti vročini.

Keywords: Roma; illness; thermometer; fever; activity; doctor

Keywords: Romi; bolezni; termometer; povišana telesna temperatura; aktivnosti; zdravljenje

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