Perceptions and attitudes of bhutanese people on Sowa Rigpa, traditional bhutanese medicine: A preliminary study from Thimphu

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Background: Many claims are made that the use of traditional medicine is a substantial and growing part of healthcare behavior around the world. In Bhutan traditional medical practice is one of the country's tangible heritages. The country hosts two forms of traditional medicines: local healing practices and the official traditional medical system known as sowa rigpa, meaning "the science of healing". This paper explores the attitudes on sowa rigpa among Bhutanese living in Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan.Methods: This study was conducted from May to September 2009. In total, 155 people coming from diverse social backgrounds were randomly selected for the study. The study made use of qualitative as well as quantitative approaches, involving the administration of questionnaires and conducting in-depth interviews.Results: From the 155 respondents 99% have heard about sowa rigpa, mainly from their friends or relatives. The study showed that sowa rigpa is popular among the respondents since more than half (51%) have said that they have been treated by sowa rigpa doctors. The data revealed that the majority (83%) of the respondents are satisfied with the treatment received.Conclusion: The Bhutanese healthcare system that integrates sowa rigpa and modern medicine offers an opportunity for active healthcare decision-making by the patients. The improved understanding of the knowledge, attitudes and treatment seeking practices of the participants in the study provides useful information for health practitioners and policy makers to plan health activities. The present preliminary study represents only people living in the capital city of Bhutan. Therefore, a further nationwide study is planned to better understand the role sowa rigpa plays also in rural Bhutan. © 2011 Lhamo and Nebel; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.




Lhamo, N., & Nebel, S. (2011). Perceptions and attitudes of bhutanese people on Sowa Rigpa, traditional bhutanese medicine: A preliminary study from Thimphu. Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine, 7.

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