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Diabetes Mellitus: Indigenous naming, indigenous diagnosis and self-management in an African setting: The example from Cameroon

Lookup NU author(s): Paschal Awah, Professor Nigel Unwin, Professor Peter Phillimore



Background: The objective was to examine how the indigenous naming, indigenous self-diagnosis and management of diabetes evolved with awareness in order to develop a socially oriented theoretical model for its care. Methods: The data was collected through a one-year extended participant observation in Bafut, a rural health district of Cameroon. The sample consisted of 72 participants in a rural health district of Cameroon (men and women) with type 2 diabetes. We used participant observation to collect data through focus group discussions, in depth interviews and fieldwork conversations. The method of analysis entailed a thick description, thematic analysis entailing constant comparison within and across FGD and across individual participants and content analysis. Results: The core concepts identified were the evolution of names for diabetes and the indigenous diagnostic and self-management procedures. Participants fell into one of two naming typologies: (a) Naming excluding any signs and symptoms of diabetes; (b) naming including signs and symptoms of diabetes. Participants fell into two typologies of diagnostic procedures: (a) those that use indigenous diagnostic procedures for monitoring and controlling diabetes outcomes and b) those that had initially used it only for diagnosis and continued to use them for self management. These typologies varied according to how participants' awareness evolved and the impact on self-diagnosis and management. Conclusion: The evolution of names for diabetes was an important factor that influenced the subsequent self-diagnosis and management of diabetes in both traditional and modern biomedical settings. © 2009 Awah et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Awah PK, Unwin NC, Phillimore PR

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: BMC Endocrine Disorders

Year: 2009

Volume: 9

Issue: 1

Pages: 5

Date deposited: 09/12/2010

ISSN (electronic): 1472-6823

Publisher: BioMed Central Ltd.


DOI: 10.1186/1472-6823-9-5


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