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Help-Seeking From Traditional Healers Among Singaporean Older Adults

Shazana Binte Mohamed Shahwan, Edimansyah Abdin, Janhavi Vaingankar, Saleha Binte Shafie, Chong Siow Ann, Mythily Subramaniam


Objective: The objectives were to identify the socio-demographic characteristics of older adults who visit traditional healers as well as identify medical and psychiatric conditions that are associated with visits to the traditional healer.

Methods: Data from 2563 older adults who participated in the Well-being of the Singapore Elderly (WiSE) population-based survey was used. Socio-demographic information, details on traditional healer visits as well as medical and psychiatric conditions were collated through an adapted 10/66 protocol.

Results: A total of 10.4% of older adults sought  help from a traditional healer within the past three months. There were significantly more visits to traditional healers by women, those whose highest level of education was primary or secondary school, those who had stomach/intestine problems and those who had anxiety symptoms.

Conclusions: Traditional healers appear to be a preferred source of help among some older adult groups. Future research should focus on the impact of seeking help from these alternative healthcare providers in terms of clinical outcomes and costs.

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Traditional Medicine; Alternative Medicine; Older Adult; Help-Seeking; Treatment

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