The association of beliefs about heredity with preventive and interpersonal behaviors in communities affected by podoconiosis in rural Ethiopia

Desta Ayode, Colleen M. McBride, Hendrik De Heer, Emi Watanabe, Tsega Gebreyesus, Getnet Tadele, Abebayehu Tora, Gail Davey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

24 Scopus citations

Abstract

Little is known about how beliefs about heredity as a cause of health conditions might influence preventive and interpersonal behaviors among those individuals with low genetic and health literacy. We explored causal beliefs about podoconiosis, a neglected tropical disease (NTD) endemic in Ethiopia. Podoconiosis clusters in families but can be prevented if individuals at genetically high risk wear shoes consistently. Adults (N = 242) from four rural Ethiopian communities participated in qualitative assessments of beliefs about the causes of podoconiosis. Heredity was commonly mentioned, with heredity being perceived as (1) the sole cause of podoconiosis, (2) not a causal factor, or (3) one of multiple causes. These beliefs influenced the perceived controllability of podoconiosis and in turn, whether individuals endorsed preventive and interpersonal stigmatizing behaviors. Culturally informed education programs that increase the perceived controllability of stigmatized hereditary health conditions like podoconiosis have promise for increasing preventive behaviors and reducing interpersonal stigma.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)623-630
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
Volume87
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2012

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Virology
  • Infectious Diseases

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