The aim of this research was to describe the experiences of a group of women about the decision making process related to illness care at home or in health care institutions. The thematic oral history method was applied. The descriptive categories were: a) The poor have their own way of taking care of health and illness; b) The main support to fight the illness is belief in God; c) Medical care is the last resource, when healing resources are not enough and the illness is dangerous. In low income families, the cultural background, associated to the socioeconomic conditions, permeate the decision with regard to taking care of the illness at home or to seek institutionalized medical care. This knowledge is essential for meaningful health care from the perspective of individuals and families.
family practice; culture; delivery of health care; socioeconomic factors