Seeking help chaow baan ways in southern Thailand Academic Article uri icon


  • Although modern health care facilities exist in rural areas, Thai people continue to seek help from traditional healers. This paper explores the perceptions and experiences of patients of traditional healers in southern Thailand. An ethnographic method was used comprising participant observation and in-depth interviews with 23 patients of traditional healers. Fieldwork data showed that patients sought help from traditional healers for both common and emergency illnesses, and for treatment of localised symptoms as well as chronic health conditions. The participants believed that there was no single healing system that could promote total well-being: they looked for the one that could best help them to return to normal health. Individuals expected that any healing form would be complementary or an alternative to another. The findings of this study have implications for the provision of health care to local people. They add weight to arguments that health policymakers could increase choice within the Thai health care system by formally incorporating and promoting the role of traditional healers, recognising them as an important resource in primary health care.

publication date

  • 2012