Understandings of stroke in rural Malaysia: ethnographic insights
Yap, Kwong Hsia
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Yap, K.H., Warren, N., Allotey, P. and Reidpath, D.D. (2021) ‘Understandings of stroke in rural Malaysia: ethnographic insights’, Disability and Rehabilitation, 43(3), pp. 345–353. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1080/09638288.2019.1624841.
Background Stroke is a public health concern in Malaysia but local beliefs and lay understandings of stroke have not been examined before. Explanatory models provide a way for people to make sense of their illness and influence health seeking behaviors, in a locally relevant way. Methods Drawing on ethnographic research from rural Malaysia, this descriptive article explores ethnic Malaysian-Chinese stroke survivors’ lay understandings of stroke. Eighteen community-dwelling stroke survivors aged 50–83 took part in the study. Results Causation of stroke was derived from cultural, biomedical and social sources. Participants also drew simultaneously from both biomedical and traditional explanations of stroke to develop their own understanding of etiology. Similarities with biomedical causation and other studies from different cultures were found. Participants’ typically focused on the more immediate effects of stroke and often do not attribute causation and association with their comorbid conditions which are also risk factors of stroke. Conclusion Lack of knowledge about stroke and its symptoms was evident in participants’ account. Findings emphasize the importance of knowledge based health interventions, especially in health education strategies for stroke survivors to reduce delays to diagnosis and potentially improve health outcomes post-stroke.