Dissertation Defense Announcement
College of Communication and Fine Arts announces the Final Dissertation Defense of
for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy
April 1, 2019 at 11:00 AM in College of Communication and Fine Arts, Dean's Conference Room
Advisor(s): Joy Goldsmith & Sachiko Terui
"This is the Liberian way": Coping and health literacy in narratives of sickness from Liberia, West Africa.
ABSTRACT: Following two consecutive civil wars, Liberia's health infrastructure was left in shambles. As the country moved forward in restoring health facilities, a mysterious virus began to sweep through the country. Ebola traumatized Liberia and most of West Africa from 2014-2016. This qualitative study explores how people in rural Liberia, West Africa manage sickness. My work is situated in narrative theory and a culturally-centered approach as well as literature on health narratives, approaches to medical treatment, and coping. Using semi-structured interviews, I collected health narratives from 30 individuals who identified as community members and 16 individuals who identified as healthcare providers. Additionally, I conducted two focus groups. The first focus group consisted of six healthcare provider participants, and the second focus group consisted of seven community member participants. All 46 participants were from rural Liberian villages. To interpret the data I used framework analysis, which consists of five steps: familiarizing the data; identifying a thematic framework; indexing; charting; and mapping and interpretation. Following the analysis, I identified three major themes: encountering my sickness; encouraging me to handle the sickness; helping me through sickness. The relationship between the major themes and subthemes provide insight into how Liberians experience illness, which is directly related to health literacy. Establishing a framework to better comprehend how Liberians experience and cope with sickness allows the researcher a richer understanding of health, culture, and coping in rural Liberia.