A qualitative study on cultural bloodletting among Ethiopian immigrants

Howard Tandeter, Mirta Grynbaum, Jeffrey Borkan

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    8 Scopus citations


    Background: Bloodletting is practiced in Ethiopia. Physicians in Israel engaging in transcultural encounters with Ethiopian immigrants are generally unaware of these ethno-medical beliefs and practices. Objective: To assess the past and present use of bloodletting among Ethiopian immigrants in Israel. Methods: We interviewed a sample of 50 adult patients of Ethiopian origin about present and past use of bloodletting. A second consecutive sample of 10 adult patients of Ethiopian origin who often asked their doctors to perform blood tests were identified and interviewed. Data analysis was performed by "immersion-crystallization" analysis. Results: More than half of the interviewed patients reported the use of bloodletting. Scars were commonly present on their upper extremities. A qualitative analysis identified the different reasons for the use of bloodletting, the technique used and its appreciated efficacy. We also found an unexpected cultural synergy between traditional bloodletting and western medical blood sampling. Conclusions: Some Ethiopian immigrants continue to perform traditional bloodletting in their new country of residency, a practice that local physicians may not be aware of. Bloodletting-type scars on the upper extremities may be common in these patients. Patients may ask for blood sampling as a culturally accepted way to perform bloodletting (synergy).

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)937-939
    Number of pages3
    JournalIsrael Medical Association Journal
    Issue number12
    StatePublished - 1 Dec 2001


    • Blood sampling
    • Bloodletting
    • Synergy
    • Transcultural medicine

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • General Medicine


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