Predictors of use of traditional medicine by patients with sexually transmitted infections in southwest Uganda

J Altern Complement Med. 2008 Jul;14(6):733-9. doi: 10.1089/acm.2007.7160.


Objectives: We studied the predictors for use of traditional medicine among patients with sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Design: We interviewed a consecutive sample of patients with STIs.

Settings: Mbarara and Bushenyi districts in southwestern Uganda.

Subjects: Two hundred and twenty-four (224) patients presenting with STIs who used allopathic (101) or traditional medicine (123).

Outcome measures: Using an interviewer-administered questionnaire, patients answered questions regarding their socioeconomic conditions, STI symptoms, and attitudinal beliefs, normative and self-efficacy beliefs toward use of traditional medicine.

Results: The independent predictors of using traditional medicine were (1) presenting with genital ulcers as a symptom [Adjusted Odds Ratio (AOR 3.45) 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.14-10.41], (2) presenting with a positive syphilis test (AOR 9.67, 95% CI 2.70-34.11), (3) having had STI symptoms for more than 30 days (AOR 3.61, 95% CI 1.28-11.58), (4) not presenting with urethral discharge as a symptom (AOR 12.56, 95% CI 5.37-19.87), (5) believing that traditional medicine prevents (AOR 4.53, 95% CI 1.89-11.92), or completely cures STIs (AOR 14.72, 95% CI 2.15-50.27), (6) being likely to use medicine recommended by traditional healers (AOR 17.60, 95% CI 2.89-40.01), (7) and being unlikely to be influenced by allopathic health workers in choice of type of medicine (AOR 15.98, 95% CI 3.52-72.48).

Conclusions: Use of traditional medicine is influenced by symptoms of STI and by having positive beliefs about traditional medicine and traditional healers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Catchment Area, Health
  • Culture*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medicine, African Traditional*
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases / therapy*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Uganda / epidemiology