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Contemporary views on dementia as witchcraft in sub-Saharan Africa: a systematic literature review

Contemporary views on dementia as witchcraft in sub-Saharan Africa: a systematic literature review

Brooke, Joanne and Ojo, Omorogieva ORCID: 0000-0003-0071-3652 (2019) Contemporary views on dementia as witchcraft in sub-Saharan Africa: a systematic literature review. Journal of Clinical Nursing. ISSN 0962-1067 (Print), 1365-2702 (Online) (doi:

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A systematic review to explore the impact of cultural beliefs of dementia as witchcraft in sub-Saharan Africa. Background: The population of sub-Saharan Africa is aging, which increases the number of those at risk of dementia. Mental health and physical diseases that affect behaviour have often been associated with witchcraft. Accusations of witchcraft leave individuals vulnerable and at risk.

A systematic review, which followed the Preferred Reporting for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines and completed a PRISMA checklist. CINHAL, PsychINFO, Web of Knowledge, PubMed and Science Direct databases were searched for relevant studies published from their inception to 31st May 2019 by applying appropriate Medical Subject Headings. Data analysis adhered to Thomas and Harding's thematic synthesis.

The review identified limited literature on this topic, with only five papers meeting the inclusion and exclusion criteria. Studies explored health provision, and knowledge and beliefs of dementia in Tanzania and South Africa. Three themes emerged: 1) poor knowledge of dementia, including the belief of dementia as witchcraft; 2) challenges of supporting a family member with dementia in the community; and 3) health seeking behaviours of and for people with dementia.

There remains a need for dementia awareness and education across sub-Saharan Africa communities, including faith and traditional healers, and healthcare professionals to support pluralistic healthcare provision. Nurses are the best-placed healthcare professionals to support these initiatives and the development and implementation of low-resource non-pharmacological interventions to support people with dementia and their families living in the community.

Relevance to clinical practice:
Nurses working in sub-Saharan Africa and those caring for patients from sub-Saharan Africa can only provide person-centred care and support for a person with dementia and their family if they understand their cultural beliefs, one of which may include witchcraft.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Dementia; Witchcraft; Sub-Saharan Africa; Cultural beliefs; Systematic review
Subjects: R Medicine > RT Nursing
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Education, Health & Human Sciences
Faculty of Education, Health & Human Sciences > School of Health Sciences (HEA)
Last Modified: 19 Sep 2020 01:38

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