Original Research

Shifting and transforming the practice of audiology: The inclusion of traditional healing

Dhanashree Pillay, Tshepang Serooe
South African Journal of Communication Disorders | Vol 66, No 1 | a635 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajcd.v66i1.635 | © 2019 Dhanashree Pillay, Tshepang Serooe | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 28 March 2019 | Published: 20 November 2019

About the author(s)

Dhanashree Pillay, Department of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Tshepang Serooe, Department of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa


Background: Societal diversity encompasses an array of cultural, religious and spiritual beliefs that influence an individual’s perspective of illness and diseases. Healthcare providers are challenged with the task of considering these diversities in clinical practice. The symbiotic relationship between the healthcare provider and the traditional healer in any healthcare field is rare.

Objectives: The aims were to determine the perspectives of audiologists with regard to traditional healing in South Africa (SA) and to document if and how the audiologist engages with traditional healing in practice.

Method: A questionnaire containing closed and open-ended questions was utilised. Thematic analysis was conducted on the qualitative data, and the quantitative data were displayed using tables and figures.

Results: Forty-one audiologists working at public and private hospitals and clinics in SA were included in this study. The personal experiences of audiologists resulted in varying definitions of a traditional healer. Audiologists reported that patients utilised traditional healing methods such as pouring urine or motor oil into the ear. Strategies of accommodation included being culturally appropriate during conversations, respecting and acknowledging the individual’s cultural and religious beliefs. Twenty-seven audiologists were willing to collaborate with traditional healers to support the patient.

Conclusion: There is a need for an integral holistic model of care in Audiology. There is a lack of communication structures to facilitate the implementation of a collaborative model of care in the current medical model of practice of Audiology. The global trend of holistic and person-centred care is evident, and the field of Audiology cannot negate the role of traditional healers as alternate healthcare providers in SA.


Traditional healers; hearing impairment; integral holistic care model; alternative healthcare; healing.


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Crossref Citations

1. Barriers to access to ear and hearing care services in low- and middle- income countries: A scoping review
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