Grandmothers as Gems of Genetic Wisdom: Exploring South African Traditional Beliefs About the Causes of Childhood Genetic Disorders
- 390 Downloads
With its diverse cultural and linguistic profile, South Africa provides a unique context to explore contextual influences on the process of genetic counseling. Prior research suggests intergenerational differences regarding models of causation which influence treatment-seeking paths. This pilot study therefore aimed to explore South African traditional beliefs regarding common childhood genetic disorders. Three focus groups were conducted with fifteen grandmothers from different cultural backgrounds in an urban community. Questions pertained to the role of the grandmother, traditional beliefs regarding causes of genetic disorders, explanations of heredity, and prevention and management of genetic disorders. Results indicate a variety of cultural explanations for causes of childhood genetic disorders. These causes can be classified into categories related to lifestyle, behavior, social issues, culture, religion, genetic, and familial causes. Prevention and treatment issues are also highlighted. These findings have implications for genetic counseling practice, which needs to include a greater focus on cultural issues.
KeywordsGenetic counseling Traditional beliefs Models of causation Culture South Africa Grandmother Qualitative research Focus groups
This paper was presented at the 13th South African Society for Human Genetics Conference in Stellenbosch, 5–8 April 2009. The authors would like to acknowledge the assistance of the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Studies (STIAS), the Medical Research Council (MRC) and the South African-Netherlands Research Programme on Alternatives for Development (SANPAD). The authors would also like to thank the translators and transcribers who worked on the data.
- Aronson, J. (1994). A pragmatic view of thematic analysis. The Qualitative Report, 2, 1–4.Google Scholar
- Barratt, J., & Penn, C. (2009). Listening to the voices of disability: Experiences of caring for children with cerebral palsy in a rural South African setting. In M. MacLachlan & L. Swartz (Eds.), Disability and International Development: Towards Inclusive Global Health (pp. 191–212). New York: Springer.Google Scholar
- Cancian, F., & Oliker, J. (1998). Caring and gender. Walnut Creek: Alla Mira.Google Scholar
- Clarke, A., & Parsons, E. (1997). Culture, kinship and genes. Basingstoke: Macmillan.Google Scholar
- Edwards, J., Greenberg, J., & Sahhar, M. (2008). Global awakening in genetic counseling. Nature Proceedings. Retrieved June 1, 2009 from the World Wide Web: http://precedings.nature.com/documents/1574/version/1.
- Grbich, C. (1999). Qualitative research in health: An introduction. London: Sage.Google Scholar
- Herselman, S. (2007). ‘Health care through a cultural lens’: insights from medical anthropology. Current Allergy & Clinical Immunology, 20, 62–65.Google Scholar
- Jewkes, R., Abrahams, N., & Mvo, Z. (1998). Study of health care seeking practices of pregnant women in Cape Town. Report four: Summary of findings, conclusions and policy action. Tygerberg: Medical Research Council.Google Scholar
- Jezewski, M., & Sotnik, P. (2001). Culture brokering: Providing culturally competent rehabilitation services to foreign-born persons. New York: Center for International Rehabilitation Research Information and Exchange.Google Scholar
- Kasanga, L., & Lwanga-Lumu, J. (2007). Cross-cultural linguistic realization of politeness: a study of apologies in English and Setswana. Journal of Politeness Research, 3, 65–92.Google Scholar
- Krueger, R., & Casey, M. (2000). Focus groups: A practical guide for applied research (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks: Sage.Google Scholar
- Kuper, H. (1963). The Swazi: A South African Kingdom. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.Google Scholar
- Marwick, B. (1966). The Swazi: An ethnographic account of the natives of the Swaziland protectorate. London: Frank Cass & Co.Google Scholar
- Mesaki, S. (2008). Albinism: Rejection, stigmatisation and poverty. Retrieved March 20, 2009 from the World Wide Web: http://ip-216-69-164-44.ip.secureserver.net/ipp/observer/2008/04/20/112771.html.
- Meyer, C., & Moagi, S. (2000). Determining priority needs of mothers with disabled children in Winterveldt. South African Journal of Occupational Therapy, 30(2), 7–11.Google Scholar
- Modell, B. (1997). Kinship and medical genetics: a clinician’s perspective. In A. Clarke & E. Parsons (Eds.), Culture, kinship and genes (pp. 27–39). London: Macmillan.Google Scholar
- Morris-Rosendahl, D. (2009). Molecular genetic analysis of patients with malformations of cortical development. Paper presented at 13th South African Society for Human Genetics Congress, Stellenbosch, 5–8 April 2009.Google Scholar
- Ogunmefun, C., & Schatz, E. (2006). Caregiver’s sacrifices: the opportunity costs of adult morbidity and mortality on female pensioners in rural South Africa. IBS Population Program Working Paper POP2006-11, PAC2006-02. Retrieved April 21, 2009 from the World Wide Web: http://www.colorado.edu/ibs/pubs/pac/pac2006-0002.pdf.
- Phillips, G. (2007). Healing, cultural safety and the criminal justice system. Paper presented at the 3rd National Indigenous Justice CEO Forum, Brisbane, 21 November 2007.Google Scholar
- Solomon, G., Penn, C., Greenberg, J., & Vivian, L. (2008). Basic understanding of genetics amongst amaXhosa caregivers of haemophilia patients, medical support staff and traditional healers. Poster presented at 6th International Communication, Medicine and Ethics (COMET) Conference, Cape Town, 2–4 July 2008.Google Scholar
- Urban, M. (2009). Prenatal screening for Down syndrome in the Peninsula maternity and neonatal service: Past, present and future. Paper presented at the 13th South African Society for Human Genetics Conference, Stellenbosch, 5–8 April 2009.Google Scholar
- van Dyk, A. (2001a). Traditional African beliefs and customs: implications for AIDS education and prevention in Africa. South African Journal of Psychology, 31, 60–66.Google Scholar
- Wessels, T., & Penn, C. (2008). “Do you know why the doctor sent you?”—Characteristics of the genetic counseling process in a multicultural antenatal context in Johannesburg South Africa. Poster presented at the European Human Genetics Society Conference, Barcelona, May 31–June 3 2008.Google Scholar
- World Health Organization. (2008). Task shifting: rational redistribution of tasks among health workforce teams: global recommendations and guidelines. Retrieved April 21, 2009 from the World Wide Web: http://www.who.int/healthsystems/TTR-TaskShifting.pdf.