Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Chemistry and Pharmacology
Abstract The way in which drugs are used is a result of structural factors, such as the pharmaceutical market and the system of professional health care, and of ideological ones, such as definitions of health and sickness, and perceptions about drugs and symbolic meanings attached to them. The foundations for ideological factors related to drug use are suspected to be created in childhood through personal and culturally shaped experiences related to health and sickness, with implications for adult health and illness behaviour. It is therefore important to explore the perceptions that children themselves have of medications, including the role that they play in children's ideas about therapeutic measures to be taken when they are sick. Sixty healthy Greek children, aged six and seven years, were individually interviewed about drawings they had made depicting themselves the last time they had been sick or not felt well. The content of their narratives was analysed for references to medications according to words which they used (e.g., by general description, by type of medication, by brand name), the spontaneity of their responses, attitudes expressed about the necessity of drugs for recovery, and descriptions of the process of being sick (ideas of causation, necessary behavioural changes, therapeutic measuresetc.). Almost half of the children depicted and described themselves as alone while sick, often feeling isolated or denied access to regular activity; medications were seen as a way to resume normal activities and responsibilities. Illness was described as sudden in its onset, and a distinction was made between serious illness, which requires both a change in behaviour and the use of medication, and a ‘light’ illness, which does not. Alternatives or supplements to medication were stated by almost all the children (e.g., teas, soups, boiled rice) as part of their therapeutical regimen. The findings are discussed with respect to the context of Greek culture.
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