This thesis seeks to address the diverging constructs of illness that lie within the Egyptian context. The illnesses of al daght (hypertension) and al sukar (Type II, diabetes mellitus) are examined in reference to how local constructs of illness in an Egyptian neighborhood differ from the constructs of the predominate medical system operating in Egypt, that of the biomedical model. The thesis begins with examining the basis of divergence and by looking at the historical and cultural properties of the medical systems that have existed in parts of the "East" and the "West". A discussion of how illnesses are perceived, understood and constructed is the focus of this thesis, as well as, how these circumstances affect the development of medical systems. The thesis ends with a discussion of the benefits of cross cultural medical research and the impact it has on local medical systems as well as the biomedical model itself. Methods used include participant observation, interview schedules and questionnaires. Findings show that Egyptian constructs of these illnesses are based on this populations experience with these illnesses in conjunction with the social circumstances in their daily lives. Although Egyptian constructs differ from the biomedical model, local constructions should not be ignored by physicians, but should be further examined to provide deeper understandings of these illnesses that have been limitedly explored before and that in turn can help improve treatment of these illnesses universally.


School of Humanities and Social Sciences

Date of Award


Online Submission Date


First Advisor

Cynthia Nelson

Committee Member 1

Cynthia Nelson

Committee Member 2

Donald Cole

Committee Member 3

Kevin Dwyer

Document Type



87 leaves

Library of Congress Subject Heading 1

Disease management

Library of Congress Subject Heading 2



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Call Number

Thesis 2004/58