227683 Pagan Health Survey: The worldviews and health care choices of Wiccans, Druids, and Witches

Tuesday, November 9, 2010 : 9:10 AM - 9:25 AM

Kimberly Hedrick, PhD, Cultural Anthropology , Religious Diversity & Social Issues, TriWinds Institute, Forest Falls, CA
Pagans comprise a small but rapidly growing umbrella of minority Nature-centered religions, including various traditions of Wicca, Druidism, and Witchcraft. Pagan worldviews and religious practices, significantly different from the Abrahamic religions, can generate points of contention between mainstream biomedical treatments and public health policies and Pagan patients' beliefs about health care. The approach to the research was grounded in the fields of medical and cognitive anthropology. The Pagan Health Survey utilized a mixed-methods approach, including ethnographic field research in the Pagan community, focus groups of Pagan health professionals and clergy, and a community-wide (laity and solitary practitioners) survey on Pagan views of health, health care choices, and health-related spiritual practices. Qualitative and quantitative data was collected on a representative sample (for both focus groups and survey) and analyzed through ethnographic decision modeling and cultural model theory. The results of the Pagan Health Survey indicated that there are significant differences between Pagan views of physical and mental health, health care treatment options, and health care practitioners and the tenets of biomedicine and treatments available. This is particularly apparent in mental health, where substantial discrepancies in views of mental wellness combined with non-mainstream spiritual practices can lead to patients feeing misunderstood. The overarching holistic worldview, which sees health as an integrative endeavor (both in unifying body, mind, and spirit and in unifying environmental and personal health), can cause dissatisfaction with standard health care options and public health policies and lead to seeking alternative treatments and practitioners.

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe the Pagan community, including common traditions, labels, and overarching worldviews. 2. Differentiate between Pagans and other similar or related religious communities. 3. Define specific Pagan cultural models of health, health care treatment, and health care practitioners. 4. Discuss points of contention between Pagan worldviews and spiritual practices and mainstream biomedical tenets, treatments, and policies. 5. Assess the adequacy of the existing biomedical model of public health and treatment in light of Pagan worldviews. 6. Identify major trends in Pagan health care choices. 7. Discuss religion-based health-related practices and practitioners.

Keywords: Faith Community, Cultural Competency

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the director of the Religious Diversity & Social Issues group of a grassroots non-profit 501(c)3 organization dedicated to social and environmental research and outreach. I have been adequately trained and published in the methodology and theory used to conduct the research and am backed by a collaborative of clergy and health care professionals from the minority religious community in question.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.