Cultural differences in conceptual models of depression

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

204 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Members of ethnic minority groups are less likely than white middle class people to seek professional treatment for depression and other mental health problems. One explanation is that the former conceptualize depressive symptoms as social problems or emotional reactions to situations, while the latter are more apt to view depression as a disease requiring professional treatment. Though considerable evidence supports this hypothesis, it is rarely explored directly through cross-cultural comparisons. The present study compares conceptual models of depressive symptoms in two diverse cultural groups in New York City (USA): 36 South Asian (SA) immigrants and 37 European Americans (EA) were presented with a vignette describing depressive symptoms and participated in a semi-structured interview designed to elicit representational models of the symptoms. Results indicate pervasive differences in representational models across the two groups. SA participants identified the "problem" in the vignette in largely social and moral terms. Suggestions for management and health seeking in this group emphasized self-management and lay referral strategies. EAs, by contrast, often proposed alternate, sometimes contradictory, explanatory models for the depressive symptoms. One model emphasized biological explanations ranging from "hormonal imbalance" to "neurological problem." The second model resembled the "situational stress" or "life problem" model described by SAs. The implications of these findings, and directions for future research, are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1625-1635
Number of pages11
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Volume60
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2005

Fingerprint

cultural difference
Depression
Cross-Cultural Comparison
Asian immigrant
Group
Biological Models
Minority Groups
Social Problems
minority group
intercultural comparison
Self Care
ethnic minority
social problem
Psychological Stress
mental health
Ethnic Groups
Conceptual model
Cultural differences
Conceptual Model
Cultural Differences

Keywords

  • Conceptual models
  • Cultural differences
  • Depression
  • Illness representation
  • USA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Social Psychology
  • Development
  • Health(social science)

Cite this

Cultural differences in conceptual models of depression. / Karasz, Alison.

In: Social Science and Medicine, Vol. 60, No. 7, 04.2005, p. 1625-1635.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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