Uncovering sociocultural factors influencing the pathway to care of Chinese caregivers with relatives suffering from early psychosis in Hong Kong

Daniel Fu Keung Wong
Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry 2007, 31 (1): 51-71
I used a qualitative approach to explore the sociocultural factors influencing the pattern of the help-seeking pathway of Chinese caregivers with relatives suffering from early psychosis in Hong Kong. Analyses of the interview scripts of 58 caregivers revealed that they required an average of 5 months and 2.14 helpers before their ill relatives could receive formal psychiatric services. Drawing on Lin and Lin's model of the Chinese help-seeking pathway as a basis for discussion, this study finds that family caregivers engaged in intrafamilial coping and expanded in concentric circles to include relatives and friends as helpers in the help-seeking pathway. Contrary to Lin and Lin's view that informal network members might cause a delay in the help-seeking process, it is revealed that informal network members who possessed adequate knowledge of mental illness were able to encourage family caregivers to seek help from formal psychiatric services. The duration leading to extrafamilial coping was shorter than the one implied in Lin and Lin's model. Family caregivers were quite ready to seek help from professionals in the formal psychiatric services despite the fact that the ill relatives were reluctant to seek treatment due to psychiatric stigma. Finally, the findings of this study do not support the existence of the "rejection phase" of the help-seeking process proposed by Lin and Lin.

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