Philomene Fortes

Philomene Fortes

University of Rhode Island



Mentors: Dr. Gene Harkless, Associate Professor of Nursing

Ramedi di nos povu "The Medicine of Our People": A Qualitative Study of the Cape Verdean Women's Health Practices

The purpose of this study was to explore self-reported health practices of Cape Verdean women. I investigated the particular patterns of promoting health among women in the Cape Verdean culture. The research focused on how the women maintained their health, as well as the health of their families. The research also described what specific kinds of general health practices the women used to prevent disease and promote health by exploring how they kept themselves healthy based on or related to their cultural practices.

The goal of this study was to generate new knowledge of the Cape Verdean woman's cultural health practices. The aim is to provide important clinical information to the nursing profession so as to provide culturally competent care to this community. To frame my analysis, I reviewed Josepha Campinha-Bacote’s culturally competent model of care, and Arthur Kleinman’s explanatory model of understanding clients' world views and working within the client's view of health and illness.

Eight women were asked to participate based on their key informant status within their community. All initially agreed to meet for the first interview. When written informed consent was presented, three women withdrew from the study due to misunderstanding the purpose of the informed consent. Ethnographic interviews were then conducted with five immigrant Cape Verdean women living in Rhode Island. Not all participants spoke English; some were fluent in English while others only spoke Crioulo (Creole). The women had a choice to be either interviewed by the researcher in English or Creole. Hand written field notes were kept by the researcher. The content of the interviews were interpreted using thematic analysis. The interviews were translated, coded, and analyzed so that themes related to the research questions could be developed.

The themes that emerged were the prevention of risk behaviors, folk believing, women's health customs, using home remedies as first line treatment of curing illness, faith and believing in a higher being, and the use of specific cultural remedies to cure different illnesses. Future research should focus on replicating and extending this project so as to gain a comprehensive understanding of Cape Verdean women’s health practices. Areas that should be further investigated are the Cape Verdean woman’s understanding of women’s health, and the concept of faith and believing in the Cape Verdean culture. Further research may also elicit in-depth information about whether any of the cultural home remedies interact with Western medicine.

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