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June 20, 1977

Modern Day Menstrual Folklore: Some Clinical Implications

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Community Medicine (Dr Snow), and Family Medicine (Dr Johnson), Michigan State University, East Lansing.

JAMA. 1977;237(25):2736-2739. doi:10.1001/jama.1977.03270520046021

Clinicians are often unaware of the folk medical beliefs of their patients or consider them to be harmless and unimportant. Such beliefs are instrumental in shaping patient behavior, however, and may contribute to negative health practices. The information presented here demonstrates that attitudes toward a single bodily function, menstruation, may adversely affect women's body image, perception of disease causation, diet, willingness to take medication, contraceptive use, and the ability to plan pregnancies. The data are part of a pilot study in which patients in a clinic serving a multiethnic low-income population were questioned about their knowledge and beliefs concerning the female reproductive cycle. It is concluded that health personnel should strive to learn what women know and believe about their bodies and how they function, to improve health care provision.

(JAMA 237:2736-2739, 1977)