Qualitative study of the use of traditional healing by asthmatic Navajo families

Am Indian Alsk Native Ment Health Res. 2003;11(1):1-18. doi: 10.5820/aian.1101.2003.1.


Despite increasing prevalence of asthma among American Indians and/or Alaska Natives, little is known about their use of traditional healing in its management. A convenience sample of 24 Navajo families with asthmatic members (n=35) was interviewed between June 1997 and September 1998. While 46% of families had previously used traditional healing, only 29% sought traditional healing for asthma. Use of traditional healing was unrelated to use of biomedical therapies, hospitalizations, or emergency services. Practical factors and questions about the nature and origins of asthma were the primary considerations determining use of traditional medicine. Little conflict between traditional healing and biomedical treatment was reported. The use of traditional healing for asthma is influenced by beliefs about the disease and factors specific to the individual, including their local social, economic, and cultural context.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Asthma / drug therapy
  • Asthma / therapy*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cost of Illness
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Indians, North American*
  • Male
  • Medicine, Traditional*
  • Middle Aged
  • New Mexico
  • Philosophy, Medical
  • Qualitative Research
  • Spiritual Therapies