2019-10-01Zeitschriftenartikel DOI: 10.1177/1363461519853649
Causal attribution for mental illness in Cuba: A thematic analysis
Explanatory models (EMs) for illness are highly relevant for patients, and they are also important for clinical diagnoses and treatment. EMs serve to capture patients' personal illness narratives and can help reveal how culture influences these narratives. While much research has aimed to understand EMs in the Western hemisphere, less research has been done on other cultures. Therefore, we investigated local causal attributions for mental illness in Cuba because of its particular history and political system. Although Cuban culture shares many values with Latin American cultures because of Spanish colonization, it is unique because of its socialist political and economic context, which might influence causal attributions. Thus, we developed a qualitative interview outline based on the Clinical Ethnographic Interview and administered interviews to 14 psychiatric patients in Havana. We conducted a thematic analysis to identify repeated patterns of meaning. Six patterns of causal attribution for mental illness were identified: (1) Personal shortcomings, (2) Family influences, (3) Excessive demands, (4) Cultural, economic, and political environment in Cuba, (5) Physical causes, and (6) Symptom-related explanations. In our sample, we found general and Cuba-specific patterns of causal attributions, whereby the Cuba-specific themes mainly locate the causes of mental illness outside the individual. These findings might be related to Cubans' socio-centric personal orientation, the cultural value of familismo and common daily experiences within socialist Cuban society. We discuss how the findings may be related to social stigma and help-seeking behavior.
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This publication is with permission of the rights owner freely accessible due to an alliance licence and a national licence (funded by the DFG, German Research Foundation) respectively.