This study investigated the cultural influence on how much the citizens of Kazakhstan feel they have control over their own health. The strategies of health promotion involving information dissemination and social appeal are cultural constructs which assume particular beliefs about individual responsibility and control regarding outcomes. Research shows that different populations demonstrate variance in health beliefs and attributions of health behaviors (Vaughn et al., 2009). Variance occurs among cultural groups regarding health behaviors and causes of illness (Lundell et al., 2013). Health promotion that is built on the cultural beliefs and attitudes of one cultural group is not suited for another cultural group which, through historical and contemporary influences, has different views regarding health, behavior, and control. In this case, if the public does not see health outcomes as within their control, current efforts in health promotion will not produce changes in behavior towards healthier lifestyles. Method To begin investigating how culture influences the perceptions of control and responsibility in health in Kazakhstan, surveys were distributed in 10 marketplaces in Astana, Kazakhstan. Surveys included demographic information, health behaviors such as alcohol and tobacco use, exercise, and diet. We included the multidimensional health locus of control scales (MHLC) as the primary measure to determine levels of perceived control (Wallston, et al., 1978; Wallston, 2005). Results Mean scores on the MHLC subscales were [Possible Range: 6 – 36]: Internal: 29.699 (+ 0.64); Chance: 20.817 (+ 0.849)]; and Powerful Others: 23.723 (+ 0.766). While the results of this study revealed high scores in the public’s sense of personal control over their own health, it also revealed high scores in the perception that health is in the hands of others such as medical providers as well as a result of chance or fate. Such scores are different than Western European cultural groups and similar to South Asian cultural groups, revealing cultural influences on health and behaviors. Conclusion The scores from this study are revealing in that the MHLC subscales are not at odds with one another from the perspective of our participants. Further investigation is warranted regarding attributions of illness, behavior and health in addition to the relationship between the public and the health care system.

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Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

Perceptions of health attributions, behaviors, and outcomes
Cultural considerations

Brett Craig   Nazarbayev University, Kazakhstan

Martha Engstrom   Independent Researcher, Kazakhstan

This study investigated the cultural influence on how much the citizens of Kazakhstan feel they have control over their own health. The strategies of health promotion involving information dissemination and social appeal are cultural constructs which assume particular beliefs about individual responsibility and control regarding outcomes. Research shows that different populations demonstrate variance in health beliefs and attributions of health behaviors (Vaughn et al., 2009). Variance occurs among cultural groups regarding health behaviors and causes of illness (Lundell et al., 2013). Health promotion that is built on the cultural beliefs and attitudes of one cultural group is not suited for another cultural group which, through historical and contemporary influences, has different views regarding health, behavior, and control. In this case, if the public does not see health outcomes as within their control, current efforts in health promotion will not produce changes in behavior towards healthier lifestyles. Method To begin investigating how culture influences the perceptions of control and responsibility in health in Kazakhstan, surveys were distributed in 10 marketplaces in Astana, Kazakhstan. Surveys included demographic information, health behaviors such as alcohol and tobacco use, exercise, and diet. We included the multidimensional health locus of control scales (MHLC) as the primary measure to determine levels of perceived control (Wallston, et al., 1978; Wallston, 2005). Results Mean scores on the MHLC subscales were [Possible Range: 6 – 36]: Internal: 29.699 (+ 0.64); Chance: 20.817 (+ 0.849)]; and Powerful Others: 23.723 (+ 0.766). While the results of this study revealed high scores in the public’s sense of personal control over their own health, it also revealed high scores in the perception that health is in the hands of others such as medical providers as well as a result of chance or fate. Such scores are different than Western European cultural groups and similar to South Asian cultural groups, revealing cultural influences on health and behaviors. Conclusion The scores from this study are revealing in that the MHLC subscales are not at odds with one another from the perspective of our participants. Further investigation is warranted regarding attributions of illness, behavior and health in addition to the relationship between the public and the health care system.

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