Why is this happening to me? - a comparison of illness representations between Iranian and German people with mental illness

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Abstract

Background: Due to an increase in migration and globalization, cross-cultural encounters in health care are also becoming more frequent. As psychotherapy is grounded in a cultural context and must be congruent with the patient's cultural beliefs of his or her illness in order to be effective, the consideration of cross-cultural differences in illness representations becomes increasingly important. Especially research on illness representations concerning mental disorders is scarce. Methods: The aim of the current study was to compare illness representations between Iranian (N = 87) and German (N = 90) patient samples as well as subclinical samples (Iranian N = 264, German N = 102) using a multivariate analysis of covariance (MANCOVA). Illness representations were measured using the Illness Perception Questionnaire Revised (IPQ-R). Initially, a factor analysis was conducted in order to ensure comparability of the IPQ-R between the Iranian and the German sample. Results: The factor analysis already revealed differences in item compositions of the IPQ-R subscales indicating differences of the conception of illness representations between the samples. Further, the Iranian samples showed a significantly higher amount of supernatural causal beliefs and emotional representation of the illness than the German samples. Surprisingly, the Iranian patient sample showed the highest amount of illness coherence. Conclusion: The current paper contributes to a deeper understanding of cross-cultural differences in illness representations regarding mental disorders. Nevertheless, further research is needed to confirm current findings and to further elaborate on the relationships found.

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Reichardt, J., Ebrahimi, A., Nasiri Dehsorkhi, H., Mewes, R., Weise, C., Afshar, H., … Rief, W. (2018). Why is this happening to me? - a comparison of illness representations between Iranian and German people with mental illness. BMC Psychology, 6(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40359-018-0250-3

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