Help‐seeking behaviours in childbearing women in Ghana, West Africa


childbirth in Ghana, cultural competence, ethno-medicine Ghanian women, health, help-seeking behaviours, Sunsumyare


Aim: The purpose of this ethnographic study was to examine the health‐seeking behaviours of Ghanaian childbearing women.

Background: The Ashanti consider pregnancy to be a vulnerable time when risk increases that women may be affected by witchcraft and develop sunsumyare. Preparation for positive birth outcomes include biomedical, ethnomedical and faith‐based interventions.

Design: A sample of 42 childbearing Ghanaian women participated in audiotaped interviews. Transcribed interviews were coded and categorized into themes.

Findings and discussion: The overriding theme was health seeking to ensure positive pregnancy outcomes. Subthemes included accessing multiple sources of care simultaneously, feeling vulnerable to spiritual illness, seeking spiritual protection and disclosing multiple sources of care.

Conclusion: Childbearing is an essential part of the gender identity of Ashanti women. Witchcraft mentality provides a way for a woman to manage her life challenges.

Implications for practice: Cultural beliefs and practices have profound effects on health‐seeking behaviours. It is becoming increasingly important that healthcare providers perform cultural and spiritual assessments and inquire about complementary sources of health care.

Original Publication Citation

Farnes, C., Beckstrand, R. L., & Callister, L. C. (2011). Help seeking behaviors in Ghanian childbearing women. International Nursing Review, 58(4): 491-7.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


International Nursing Review





University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor