Use of indigenous cultural idioms by Chinese immigrant relatives for psychosis: impacts on stigma and psychoeducational approaches

Lawrence H Yang, Daisy R Singla
Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease 2011, 199 (11): 872-8
Indigenous interpretations of mental illness might negatively impact treatment adherence. However, psychiatric "labeling" potentially leads to stigma among Chinese groups, thus encouraging the use of indigenous idioms. We examined how relatives' use of indigenous labeling varied with the consumers' experience of illness and whether indigenous labeling protected relatives from internalized and experienced forms of stigma. Forty-nine relatives of Chinese-immigrant consumers with psychosis were sampled. Although consumers had progressed to the middle stages of psychosis, 39% of relatives used indigenous idioms to label psychosis. Indigenous labeling decreased when illness duration increased and when visual hallucinations were present. Indigenous labeling further predicted lower internalized stigma among relatives. Relatives who used indigenous labeling also reported fewer indirect stigma experiences, although not after controlling for illness severity. The frequency of direct discrimination among relatives did not differ by labeling. These forms of felt stigma might be embedded into relatives' psychoeducation programs to mitigate adverse consequences of psychiatric labeling.

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