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Revista de Saúde Pública

On-line version ISSN 1518-8787Print version ISSN 0034-8910


SANTOS, Marilena Gomes dos; DIAS, Ângela Guimarães Pinto  and  MARTINS, Marcelo Moreira. Knowledge and use of alternative medicine by elementary school children and teachers. Rev. Saúde Pública [online]. 1995, vol.29, n.3, pp.221-227. ISSN 1518-8787.

The knowledge and use of popular cures was investigated as part of health education project in such a way as to develop and expand the existing possibilities for critical and constructive discussion in the school within the health program. It was hoped that this would result in the retrieval and in an increase in the value attributed to information concerning this nonsystematized knowledge present in a controversial and poorly accepted form In the practices of the population. One hundred and five teachers and 162 students of the 1st to 4th grades of the four primary schools on the outskirts of Belo Horizonte were interviewed. One hundred and five of the teachers answered the questions put. Twenty-three (32,4%) of the teachers said they believed in special cures, 69 (65,7%) thought that certain diseases could be treated with homemade remedies for these, 54 (78.3%) were able to associate a particular disease whit a particular medicinal plant and 15 (21.7%) prescribed a treatment without any association with a particular disease, 36 (34.3%) cited a disease without relating this to a particular herb. One hundred and one (62,3%) of the students believed that homemade remedies are effective for certain diseases. Amongst the teachers and students various diseases were mentioned as well as different symptoms and organs that can be cured by medicinal plants, roots or traditional healers. A little more than 50% of the two groups of students (1st and 2nd grade, 3rd and 4th grade) live in families who make use of traditional healers to provide alternative cures. More than 36 plants or preparations of parts of plants were indicated by the teachers and students. It is conclude that these individuals possess knowledge of and do in fact make use of alternative medicine.

Keywords : Knowledge [attitudes, practice]; Alternative medicine; Health education.

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