Traditional Healers in Riyadh Region: Reasons and Health Problems for Seeking Their Advice. A Household Survey
AbstractObjectives: The objectives were to study sociodemographic characteristics of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) visitors, rate of their visits, health problems, and reasons for the visits. Design: This was a cross-sectional study. Setting: This study was conducted in Riyadh city and its suburbs. Subjects: The sample size was calculated to be 462 families, selected according to the World Health Organization multistage random cluster sampling technique and was divided into 40 clusters. The 40 clusters were distributed proportionally according to the size of population in the catchment area. Intervention and outcome measures: A well-structured questionnaire that contains the items that fulfill the research objectives was used to collect the data by trained research assistants. Results: The study includes 1408 individuals; 61% were female. About 42% of the participants consulted traditional healers (TH) sometime before and 24% within the past 12 months. There were more visits to TH in elderly people (≥60 years), females, married, divorced, or widows and illiterate people. Common types of traditional healing included reciting the Holy Quran (62.5%), herb practitioners (43.2%), cautery (12.4%), and cupping (4.4%). Cautery was used more in suburban areas than in the city. The nationalities of the TH were Saudis (86%), Sudanese (3%), Yemenis (1%), Indians (1%), and others (9%). The common medical problems for seeking TH help were abdominal pain, flatulence, low back pain, sadness, depression, and headache. The common reasons for visiting TH were belief of success of CAM (51%), preference of natural materials (29%), and nonresponse to medical treatment (25%). Factors independently associated with consultation of TH were dissatisfaction with physician diagnosis (odds ratio OR = 122), failure of medical treatment (OR = 80), success of TH (OR = 79), long waiting time for physicians (OR = 20) and knowledge that some herbs are harmful (OR = 1.4). Conclusions: In this study, about half of the participants have visited TH. Abdominal pain was the most common presenting health problem. CAM is a reality and it deserves more investigation and appropriate legislation and control.