Andrea Kitta’s scholarship on folklore and public health appeared in a recent episode of NoiseFilter, a daily podcast that focuses on important information regarding COVID-19.
The podcast’s main hosts are Dr. MarkAlain Dery and Dr. Eric Griggs (Doc Griggs), the former an infectious disease specialist and the latter a community medicine doctor and health literacy expert. For this episode with Kitta, they were also joined by Nurse Julia, an occasional guest on the show.
They turn to an interview recently published in Slate to touch on some of Kitta’s larger conclusions:
According to folklorist Andrea Kitta, one prevalent aspect of medical folklore is a distrust in structural medicine. People often circulate stories about household remedies for COVID, which are empowering to the public but often minimally effective. These kinds of stories echo old-fashioned tales about garlic or lemon water.
The podcast hosts then go on discussing anxieties surrounding the vaccine, noting Kitta’s observation that because vaccines pierce the barrier between one’s body and the outside world, people are sometimes hesitant to get vaccinated. They conclude with consideration of the future of folklore in public health:
An understanding of what stories resonate and prevail could also be essential to public health now and again in the future. The history of medical folklore does show us that people are affected by anecdotes and emotionally affective stories, and this should affect public health messaging.
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