Electronic Theses and Dissertations



Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Committee Chair

Joy Goldsmith

Committee Member

Sachiko Terui

Committee Member

David Matthews

Committee Member

Tesfa Alexander


Following two consecutive civil wars, Liberias health infrastructure was left in shambles. As the country moved forward in restoring health facilities, a mysterious virus began to sweep through the country. Ebola traumatized Liberia and most of West Africa from 2014-2016. This qualitative study explores how people in rural Liberia, West Africa manage sickness. My work is situated in narrative theory and a culturally centered approach as well as literature on health narratives, approaches to medical treatment, and coping. Using semi-structured interviews, I collected health narratives from 30 individuals who identified as community members and 16 individuals who identified as healthcare providers. Additionally, I conducted two focus groups. The first focus group consisted of six healthcare provider participants, and the second focus group consisted of seven community member participants. All 46 participants were from rural Liberian villages. To interpret the data I used framework analysis, which consists of five steps: familiarizing the data; identifying a thematic framework; indexing; charting; and mapping and interpretation. Following the analysis, I identified three major themes: encountering my sickness; encouraging me to handle the sickness; helping me through sickness. The relationship between the major themes and subthemes provide insight into how Liberians experience illness, which is directly related to health literacy. Establishing a framework to better comprehend how Liberians experience and cope with sickness allows the researcher a richer understanding of health, culture, and coping in rural Liberia.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to ProQuest


Open Access