Old Order Amish; boundary maintenance; grounded theory; powwow; dentures; Pennsylvania German; home remedies; community health


Although the literature contains valuable information about Amish culture, few qualitative studies have been conducted on the health beliefs, health practices, and health-seeking behaviors of the Swartzentruber Amish, the most conservative group of Old Order Amish. The purpose of this study was to describe these dynamics for the Swartzentruber Amish of Clark County, Wisconsin. Utilizing the grounded theory approach, 25 participants were interviewed and seven themes were identified: shared decision-making is common in families; causes of illness are believed to be etiological or the will of God; home remedies are the first choice; preventive medicine is an unfamiliar concept; health information is sought from within their settlement; and professional medical care is a last resort in treatment. These Amish identified several obstacles to seeking or using professional medical care: unfamiliarity with the English medical system; communication barriers; lack of trust in medical professionals; the high cost of medical care; belief of diminished or no say in a child’s healthcare; and concern about prescription drugs. An understanding of the Swartzentruber Amish is important if healthcare professionals are to provide them with culturally congruent care. Numerous recommendations based on the findings are included for healthcare providers. [Abstract by author.]