Unconventional medical practices among Ghanaian students : a university-based survey

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Journal article

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Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine

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Elsevier Taiwan LLC.


Kumasi, Traditional medical therapies, Regulatory practices, Prayer healing, Intercultural healthcare, University students


Research on unconventional medical practices among students has proliferated lately in the global space, hitherto, little is known explicitly in Ghana. This paper teases out insights for recent utilisation patterns of traditional medical therapies at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Ghana. A sample of 754, randomly selected undergraduates were involved in a retrospective cross-sectional survey. Data were analysed using multivariate logistic regression and Pearson's χ2 test with p < 0.05 as significant. Overall prevalence of traditional therapies consumption was 89.1% in the last 12 months. Herbal-based products (67%), prayer healing (15%) and body-mind therapies (11%) were principally used and, accessed through purchases from pharmacy shops (29%) and encounter with faith healers (26%). Although students' knowledge on traditional therapies was acquired through family members (50%) and media (23%), literary materials remained significant information routes for Science related students compared to the Non-science related counterparts (p < 0.001). Pursuing Non-science-related programme [odds ratio (OR) 6.154 (95% confidence interval (CI) 3.745–10.111; p < 0.001)] and having Christian faith [OR 2.450 (95% CI 1.359–4.415; p = 0.003)] were strongly associated with students' traditional therapies use. Although students exhibited positive attitude towards unconventional therapies, there is an urgent need to validate the quality of traditional therapies through randomised clinical trials and regulatory practices to ensure quality control. Health forces should intensify efforts towards intercultural health care system in Ghana.





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Copyright © 2016, Center for Food and Biomolecules, National Taiwan University. Production and hosting by Elsevier Taiwan LLC. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/). Open Access funded by Center for Food and Biomolecules, National Taiwan University.

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Recommended Citation

Gyasi, R. M., Agyemang-Duahb, W., Mensahb, C. M., Arthurb, F., Torkornoob, R., & Amoah, P. A. (2017). Unconventional medical practices among Ghanaian students: A university-based survey. Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine, 7(1), 126-132. doi: 10.1016/j.jtcme.2016.06.002