NPR

How To Get People To See A Doctor When They Don't Want To

A new study looks at why the Tsimane people of Bolivia often avoid seeking medical care — and what might change their minds.
The Tsimane, who live in the Bolivian Amazon, often avoid going to the doctor — even if there's free medical care available in their community. Source: Michael Gurven

The Tsimane people, descendants of the Incas, are among the most isolated people in Bolivia. They number about 16,000 and live in 80 mostly riverbank villages of 50 to several hundred people scattered across about 3,000 square miles of Amazon jungle. They are forager-farmers who fish, hunt, cut down jungle trees with machetes and produce an average of nine children per family, says Michael Gurven, chair of the Integrated Anthropological Sciences Unit at the University of California at Santa Barbara.

Gurven has visited and studied the Tsimane people for 16 years. Last month, he and colleagues published a paper in the journal on why these impoverished people, who live), often won't take advantage of medical care, even when it's free and offered by people they've come to trust.

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from NPR

NPR6 min readPolitics
Impeachment Inquiry Update: What The Past Week Revealed About The Ukraine Affair
President Trump commissioned Rudy Giuliani as his top guy for Ukraine and the White House also appointed "three amigos" to carry out its policy. The administration says nothing's wrong here.
NPR3 min read
Mulvaney Walks Back Ukraine Remarks, Admits It Wasn't A 'Perfect Press Conference'
The acting White House chief of staff denied what he previously said: that defense funding to Ukraine was frozen in part over the demand that Kyiv dig up dirt on Trump's political rivals.
NPR5 min read
When Snakes Slither Into Bangkok Homes, This Is The Wrangler Who Gets Rid Of Them
When pythons, cobras and pit vipers show up, Pinyo Pukpinyo, a sergeant in Bangkok's fire department, is the expert who catches them. He's been bitten 20 times but says his work "makes me happy."