Cultural influences on diagnosis and perception of Tourette syndrome in Costa Rica

Department of Psychiatry, University of California at San Francisco, 401 Parnassus Avenue, Box NGL-0984, San Francisco, CA 94143, USA.
Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (Impact Factor: 6.35). 05/2001; 40(4):456-63. DOI: 10.1097/00004583-200104000-00015
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Tourette syndrome (TS) is a neuropsychiatric disorder in which the pattern of symptom presentation can vary greatly between individuals. Although globally described, TS has not been well characterized in many parts of the world. Differences in individual and cultural perceptions of TS may impact its expression and recognition in some countries, confounding the identification of affected individuals. This study examines the phenomenology and presentation of TS in Costa Rica.
Clinical data on 85 Costa Rican subjects with TS (aged 5-29 years) initially recruited for a genetic study between 1996 and early 2000 were obtained by direct interview and review of medical records.
The clinical characteristics of TS were similar to that found elsewhere. The gender ratio was 4.6:1, the mean age of onset was 6.1 years, and 20% of subjects had coprolalia. However, the perceived impact of TS was different. Many subjects denied that their TS caused impairment or distress, even when objective evidence of impairment was available.
TS in Costa Rica is phenomenologically similar to TS seen in other parts of the world, but differs in perceived impairment. In other countries where cultural forces affect disease definition, close scrutiny of symptom expression and possible adjustment of phenotype definition may be important.

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