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Lay Knowledge and Illness Attribution
Lay knowledge and illness attribution

An understanding of health and illness is not purely the privileged knowledge of the medical profession, many sophisticated, complex but different understandings of health are also held by ordinary people; and this knowledge is termed ‘lay’. These lay understandings of health and illness are informed by a complex array of cultural, gendered, class-based and generational traditions and norms, in addition to personal and familial experiences (see The social model of health). Lay knowledge serves to inform, mediate and modulate experiences, interpretations and responses to illness.

Too often in the past, lay knowledge of health has been dismissed (by professionals and policy-makers) as being little more than a set of ill-informed subjective beliefs lacking in rigour. Yet understanding ...

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