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.