Traditional beliefs concerning health and illness among members of the Circassian community in Israel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To understand the cultural context of illness in a homogeneous ethnic community, the Circassians. This is the first study of health perceptions and beliefs among Circassians. The Circassians arrived in Palestine from the Caucasus Mountain region more than a century ago. They constitute an endogamous group, whose members live in relative cultural isolation in two small villages in northern Israel, preserving their language and traditions. Design: Twenty-one elderly community members (men and women) were interviewed using open-ended interviews. Results: It was found that kutze (internal bodily resilience) is the central health-related concept and as such constitutes the main building block of a healthy and resilient community. Conclusions: By focusing on this specific community, the relationships between health beliefs and social organization were explored. Our findings highlight the need for the development of treatment approaches and/or health education that are deeply embedded in the cultural context, with special emphasis on the group's value infrastructure, life habits and health-related beliefs when studying various ethnic populations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-72
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Religion and Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2004
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported in part by grant 181-664 from the Chief Scientist’s Office of the Israel Ministry of Health, and grant 180-023 from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology and the University of Haifa.


  • Circassians
  • Cultural
  • Epidemiology
  • Ethnicity, health, qualitative

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Nursing
  • Religious studies


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