Exploring Culture-Specific Differences in Beliefs about Causes, Kinship and the Heritability of Major Depressive Disorder: The Views of Anglo-Celtic and Chinese-Australians
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The aim of this study was to explore cultural differences in causal attributions and beliefs about heritability of major depressive disorder (MDD). Face-to-face interviews with Anglo-Celtic- and Chinese-Australians community members with a family history of MDD were conducted and subjected to a rigorous qualitative analysis, using the computer software NVivo. Sixteen Anglo-Celtic-Australians and 16 Chinese-Australians were interviewed. Both groups believed that a combination of genetic and environmental factors contributed to MDD, that stress was an important cause of MDD, and that coping factors were significant moderators of the impact of stress on MDD. Both cultural groups believed that the causes of MDD affecting multiple family members included a shared family environment and a “contagion effect”, in addition to genetics. Unique to the Chinese-Australian group was the beliefs that parental pressures to exceed academically contributed to MDD; this cultural group also reported beliefs that depression was due to God’s will or alternatively fate, which in turn was related to attributions to feng shui and auspicious dates. This study documented key culture-specific differences in beliefs about causes and inheritance of MDD; such differences have major implications for clinician-patient communication about genetic risk associated with having a family history of MDD.
KeywordsCross-cultural Beliefs Causation Depression Chinese Anglo-Celtic
We are very grateful to the people who participated in this study and so generously shared their views. This study was supported by the Faculty of Medicine, University of New South Wales. Associate Professor Bettina Meiser is supported by a Career Development Award Level 2 from the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia.
Disclosure of Interest
The authors do not have any conflict of interests. The authors have full control of all primary data and agree to allow the journal to review their data if requested.
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