"A whole fruit salad there": a systematic review exploring collaboration between traditional healing systems and biomedicine in mental illness
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Teesside University, United Kingdom
Publication date: 2023-04-27
Popul. Med. 2023;5(Supplement):A1302
  Background: Existing clinical research suggests that efforts have been taken to address the treatment gap between mental illness. However, the treatment gap is a complicated, multi-dimensional phenomenon because asylum seekers and refugees may continue to hold different explanatory models of illness which influence help-seeking behaviour. This paper critically analyses medical pluralism in mental health, focusing on existing literature discussing collaborative efforts between biomedicine and traditional healing systems in managing mental illness. Methods: A systematic literature review was performed to identify and critically analyse articles discussing collaboration initiatives in mental illness which included traditional/faith healing systems and biomedicine. Electronic and hands searches revealed 659 citations, 11 articles fulfilled the criterion.  Results: The following themes recurred throughout the dataset: open-mindedness, awareness, unidirectional, clinical outcomes, and feasibility. Results indicated statistical significance (p< 0.0001) in patients receiving collaborative shared care in comparison to the control group (Gureje et al., 2020). Biomedicine and prayer camps working collaboratively  Resultsed in positive symptom control for patients. However, the number of days patients spent in chains was not reduced (Ofori-Atta et al., 2018). Conclusions: Ensuring appropriate systems, services and support for asylum seekers and refugees should be a priority for healthcare services to improve access and clinical prognosis. The present Results are significant in clinical practice and provide clear evidence of feasibility, awareness and an openness for the two paradigms to work together. So far, patients using collaborative strategies expressed a deep appreciation of the collaborative efforts of biomedicine and traditional/faith healers “A whole fruit salad there”. More efforts to improve the partnership are warranted as the collaboration remains unidirectional. Efforts to reduce the treatment gap need to start with the de-stigmatisation of traditional healing systems as taboo, evil, and shameful. Future studies are warranted to  analyse the effectiveness of the collaboration by monitoring relapse rates for patients.
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