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Cadernos de Saúde Pública

Print version ISSN 0102-311X

Abstract

ROZEMBERG, Brani. Social representation of organic processes related to schistosomiasis. Cad. Saúde Pública [online]. 1994, vol.10, n.1, pp. 30-46. ISSN 0102-311X.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0102-311X1994000100004.

The aim of this research is the critical analysis of the social representation of schistosomiasis in an endemic area in the State of Espírito Santo, Brazil. The results are presented in three papers in order to allow for an in-depth explanation of the interrelationship and conditionings related to the ways in which the population perceive schistosomiasis. This paper approaches the representation of schistosomiasis as an organic process, including the following topics: symptoms, etiology, and treatment. By transposing an assessment of "level of knowledge", we found that "knowledge" alone does not have the minimum necessary elements to warrant logical consistence from the point of view of the population. The practical measures of control programs carried out by the National Health Foundation strongly influence social representation of the disease. The creation of a myth concerning snails as elements capable of entering the human body and eating away at one's insides exerts an overwhelming influence over the population. We discuss the population's limited belief in the existence of such a disease, and the played by the medicine prescribed in the area. The "snail myth" diverts attention from the discussion of sanitary measures and general living conditions related to schistosomiasis.

Keywords : Social Representation; Schistosomiasis; Health Education.

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