CULTURAL DIFFERENCES IN ILLNESS REPRESENTATION

Project: Research project

Project Details

Description

DESCRIPTION (Adapted from the Applicant's Abstract): The project described in
this application is a comparative study of the cognitive representation of
medically unexplained illness across two disparate cultural groups: a community
of traditional, first generation, South Asian women, and a group of European
American women. Though many years of cross cultural research in anthropology,
psychology, and psychiatry have found wide-spread differences in illness
behavior across cultures, particularly in areas such as mental health care
utilization and symptom presentation in primary care settings, very little is
understood of the ways in which cultural differences in the internal
representations of illness may generate these observed behavioral differences.
Drawing on illness vignette, health history, and symptom checklist data, the
study is designed to investigate a series of interrelated research questions
about differences in illness representation between westernized,
psychologically minded individuals and individuals from traditional,
hierarchical, familistic societies. The study utilizes a cognitive model of
illness representation developed by Leventhal and his colleagues to uncover
detailed systematic differences in areas such as symptom attribution, symptom
salience, perceptions of chronicity, management strategies, and patterns of lay
referral. The study is conceptualized as a pilot study which will serve to
develop a coding scheme for the health history and vignette response data and
to generate hypotheses about pertinent cultural differences in representation
which will be tested later on in a larger scale study.
StatusFinished
Effective start/end date5/5/004/30/01

Funding

  • National Institute of Mental Health: $82,440.00

ASJC

  • Health(social science)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Anthropology
  • Social Psychology
  • Phychiatric Mental Health

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