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Soc Sci Med. 1993 Jun; 36(12): 1613-24.

The cultural construction of childhood diarrhoea in rural Nicaragua: relevance for epidemiology and health promotion.

Smith GD, Gorter A, Hoppenbrouwer J, Sweep A, Perez RM, Gonzalez C, Morales P, Pauw J, Sandiford P.

Department of Public Health, University of Glasgow, Scotland, U.K.

As a component of a series of studies of childhood diarrhoea in rural Nicaragua, lay knowledge regarding the condition and its appropriate management has been investigated through semistructured interviews with 70 mothers. These data have been combined with information from focus group discussions and observations from investigators who have been resident in the study area for many years. For any episode of childhood diarrhoea, the lay nosology influences the treatment path followed. Thus for some types of diarrhoea, treatment at a health centre or health post and the use of rehydration fluids is seen to be appropriate, while for other types the use of traditional healers or home-based treatment, often explicitly without the use of rehydration fluids, is applicable. The implications of lay nosological systems for the interpretation of epidemiological studies and for the implementation of health promotion programmes are discussed.

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