Causal Beliefs and Effects upon Mental Illness Identification Among Chinese Immigrant Relatives of Individuals with Psychosis

Lawrence H Yang, Ahtoy J Wonpat-Borja
Community Mental Health Journal 2012, 48 (4): 471-6
Identifying factors that facilitate treatment for psychotic disorders among Chinese-immigrants is crucial due to delayed treatment use. Identifying causal beliefs held by relatives that might predict identification of 'mental illness' as opposed to other 'indigenous labels' may promote more effective mental health service use. We examine what effects beliefs of 'physical causes' and other non-biomedical causal beliefs ('general social causes', and 'indigenous Chinese beliefs' or culture-specific epistemologies of illness) might have on mental illness identification. Forty-nine relatives of Chinese-immigrant consumers with psychosis were sampled. Higher endorsement of 'physical causes' was associated with mental illness labeling. However among the non-biomedical causal beliefs, 'general social causes' demonstrated no relationship with mental illness identification, while endorsement of 'indigenous Chinese beliefs' showed a negative relationship. Effective treatment- and community-based psychoeducation, in addition to emphasizing biomedical models, might integrate indigenous Chinese epistemologies of illness to facilitate rapid identification of psychotic disorders and promote treatment use.

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