Nursing ETDs


Carol J. Bett

Publication Date



This descriptive, ethnographic study explored the influence of cultural health beliefs and social capital on the adoption of community-based health care interventions by rural villages in Papua New Guinea. The development of local level resources that lead to improved health indices requires an awareness of both the cultural context and the relational components of social capital that link people within the community. Social capital has been defined as resources that are an inherent part of a social group and the elements of social organization such as trust, networks, and norms of reciprocity that facilitate mutual cooperation (Billings, 2000; Carpiano, 2006). The configuration of social capital in a group can potentially be operationalized to support the capacity of the community to create health-promoting change. Findings revealed that relational harmony was seen as essential for the maintenance of health. Strong kinship ties and consensual decision-making is the norm in rural villages, however women continue to have a limited voice. A synthesis of traditional health beliefs and innovative practices influenced how health promotion activities are perceived and implemented; and religious practices are viewed as integral to societal stability and psychosocial health. Developing a comprehensive understanding of sociocultural and contextual influences on the adoption of health promotion practices can help nurses facilitate community empowerment and sustainability of community-based health care programs in rural areas.

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Level of Degree


Department Name

College of Nursing

First Advisor

Averill, Jennifer

First Committee Member (Chair)

Schuster, Geoff

Second Committee Member

Welle, Dorinda

Third Committee Member

Crespo, Richard


This study was partially funded by grants from the University of New Mexico Office of Graduate Studies, the Wichita State University Human Capital Development Fund, and Wichita State University General Nursing Foundation Fund.


Rural, community-based health, social capital, health promotion, ethnography, Papua New Guinea



Document Type