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Irish Journal Of Psychology
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This is a cross sectional survey of health practices in the Burren, Co. Glare. The primary aim of this research is to examine people's knowledge of and attitudes toward, folk medicine, alternative medicine and conventional medicine. The design is based on a 1930s folklore scheme, conducted by the Folklore Commission of Ireland. Employing the unique method of the folklore scheme, senior pupils from 11 national schools in the Burren, Co.Clare, were asked to write an essay oil 'Health Practices', based on a research questionnaire developed for this purpose. With a 76% response rate, 133 essays were collected for analysis.High rates of knowledge were recorded for folk and alternative medicine (95% and 41% respectively). Usage rates for both non-conventional medical systems were considerably lower (23% and 16% respectively). Quantitative analysis of the data revealed that participants cannot be divided into exclusive groups of conventional and non-conventional users of health services. Also, symptom severity appears to be predictive of subsequent health service utilisation. 25% of conditions associated with folk medicine were minor dermatological complaints and 23% were ear, nose and throat complaints. Participants' attitudes to hospitals do not seem to be indicative of their health practices, thus highlighting the complexity and contradictory nature of health-related attitudes and behaviour. Finally, social class differences were apparent in this sample - knowledge and use of folk medicine was higher amongst manual classes while alternative medicine appears to be a more middle class phenomenon. These differences were not statistically significant.
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