Global convergence in ethnotheories of water and disease

Alexandra Slade, Meredith Gartin, Amber Wutich, Alyson Young

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Using interviews conducted with 468 adults in nine different global locations, we tested for commonalities in how people culturally understand water-disease connections. On the basis of consensus analysis, we find evidence of shared cultural ideas about the causes and solutions to waterborne disease both within and across all locations. Causes of water-related illness with the highest salience in the different countries were comparable across sites, and mapped reasonably onto public health understandings. Comparison of specific items (statements) between public health and lay knowledge about the causes and solutions to waterborne disease showed a high level of agreement. We suggest that a straightforward, cohesive approach to water-health messaging in public health campaigns could often be the most effective point of departure, and that sophisticated cultural tailoring may be less important in regard to global waterborne disease prevention efforts than might be expected.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13-36
Number of pages24
JournalGlobal Public Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2013


  • beliefs
  • cultural models
  • diarrhoeal disease
  • global health
  • waterborne disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


Dive into the research topics of 'Global convergence in ethnotheories of water and disease'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this