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Exploring medications amongst Tongan households in New Zealand

The current thesis explores: how four related Tongan households understand, treat and use medications; and the ‘flow’ of medications into, around and out of these households. The participants for this research come from four Tongan families living in the Auckland area. A broad ethnographic approach which is multilayered, multi-method and multi-centred was to capture such data. This included individual interviews, household discussions, diaries and photo elicitation methods. Key themes reported on are Western and Traditional Medication Use; Faito’o fakatonga; Use of Western Medication; Prayer, Faith and Medications; and Flow. Tongan cultural values and practices shape how these four households treat, use and understand medications. Participants in this study structured their lives around Tongan customary relationships, obligations to respect and care, and to have faith that resolutions would be found to any ailments or illnesses suffered by household members. Household members clearly had a respect and regard for Western medications and trust in Western practitioners but were sometimes frustrated by the dominance of this model. The same was mostly true of Tongan medicine and associated healers. Some household members went as far as using both in conjunction with each other. However, across most households, there was the presence of a firm belief that a resolution of health issues required more than medication. Good health was a product of rightful relationships and faith and trust, in medications, health practitioners and God. This study adds to research on medication use by highlighting the importance of culture to extending existing understandings of the everyday practices through which people use and share medications.
Type of thesis
Tongi, L. (2010). Exploring medications amongst Tongan households in New Zealand (Thesis, Master of Applied Psychology (MAppPsy)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/5004
University of Waikato
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