Explanatory models and mental health treatment: is vodou an obstacle to psychiatric treatment in rural Haiti?
ABSTRACT Vodou as an explanatory framework for illness has been considered an impediment to biomedical psychiatric treatment in rural Haiti by some scholars and Haitian professionals. According to this perspective, attribution of mental illness to supernatural possession drives individuals to seek care from houngan-s (Vodou priests) and other folk practitioners, rather than physicians, psychologists, or psychiatrists. This study investigates whether explanatory models of mental illness invoking supernatural causation result in care-seeking from folk practitioners and resistance to biomedical treatment. The study comprised 31 semi-structured interviews with community leaders, traditional healers, religious leaders, and biomedical providers, 10 focus group discussions with community members, community health workers, health promoters, community leaders, and church members; and four in-depth case studies of individuals exhibiting mental illness symptoms conducted in Haiti's Central Plateau. Respondents invoked multiple explanatory models for mental illness and expressed willingness to receive treatment from both traditional and biomedical practitioners. Folk practitioners expressed a desire to collaborate with biomedical providers and often referred patients to hospitals. At the same time, respondents perceived the biomedical system as largely ineffective for treating mental health problems. Explanatory models rooted in Vodou ethnopsychology were not primary barriers to pursuing psychiatric treatment. Rather, structural factors including scarcity of treatment resources and lack of psychiatric training among health practitioners created the greatest impediments to biomedical care for mental health concerns in rural Haiti.
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ABSTRACT: Three-quarters of the global mental health burden exists in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), yet the lack of mental health services in resource-poor settings is striking. Task-sharing (also, task-shifting), where mental health care is provided by non-specialists, has been proposed to improve access to mental health care in LMICs. This multi-site qualitative study investigates the acceptability and feasibility of task-sharing mental health care in LMICs by examining perceptions of primary care service providers (physicians, nurses, and community health workers), community members, and service users in one district in each of the five countries participating in the PRogramme for Improving Mental health carE (PRIME): Ethiopia, India, Nepal, South Africa, and Uganda. Thirty-six focus group discussions and 164 in-depth interviews were conducted at the pre-implementation stage between February and October 2012 with the objective of developing district level plans to integrate mental health care into primary care. Perceptions of the acceptability and feasibility of task-sharing were evaluated first at the district level in each country through open-coding and then at the cross-country level through a secondary analysis of emergent themes. We found that task-sharing mental health services is perceived to be acceptable and feasible in these LMICs as long as key conditions are met: 1) increased numbers of human resources and better access to medications; 2) ongoing structured supportive supervision at the community and primary care-levels; and 3) adequate training and compensation for health workers involved in task-sharing. Taking into account the socio-cultural context is fundamental for identifying local personnel who can assist in detection of mental illness and facilitate treatment and care as well as training, supervision, and service delivery. By recognizing the systemic challenges and sociocultural nuances that may influence task-sharing mental health care, locally-situated interventions could be more easily planned to provide appropriate and acceptable mental health care in LMICs.Social science & medicine (1982). 07/2014; 118C:33-42.
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ABSTRACT: A rich Haitian ethnopsychology has been described, detailing concepts of personhood, explanatory models of illness, and links between mind and body. However, little research has engaged explicitly with mental illness, and that which does focuses on the Kreyòl term fou (madness), a term that psychiatrists associate with schizophrenia and other psychoses. More work is needed to characterize potential forms of mild-to-moderate mental illness. Idioms of distress provide a promising avenue for exploring common mental disorders. Working in Haiti's Central Plateau, we aimed to identify idioms of distress that represent cultural syndromes. We used ethnographic and epidemiologic methods to explore the idiom of distress reflechi twòp (thinking too much). This syndrome is characterized by troubled rumination at the intersection of sadness, severe mental disorder, suicide, and social and structural hardship. Persons with "thinking too much" have greater scores on the Beck Depression Inventory and Beck Anxiety Inventory. "Thinking too much" is associated with 8 times greater odds of suicidal ideation. Untreated "thinking too much" is sometimes perceived to lead to psychosis. Recognizing and understanding "thinking too much" may allow early clinical recognition and interventions to reduce long-term psychosocial suffering in Haiti's Central Plateau.Culture Medicine and Psychiatry 07/2014; · 1.29 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: The purposes of this study were to develop a pain management model using traditional medicine (TM) vodou healing methods; to survey a sample of French dentists to rate components of conventional and proposed TM vodou-based pain management model; and to assess the possibility of conventional, allopathic providers to integrate TM or complementary and alternative medicine concepts. From a set of 30 fact sheets collected from TM African healers (vodou healers), main clinical concepts and terminology were extracted. Twenty vodou-based pain management concepts were collected from an interview with a TM vodou practitioner. From this information, a 7-step vodou-based pain management model was created. A sample of 40 French dentists from Nantes, France, whose practices focused on the clinical treatment of dental pain, was surveyed to assess the importance of both TM (vodou) and conventional biomedical components. Seventy percent of the dentists sampled rated the rational components of the TM model as "very important" or "important" for pain treatment, whereas 2 other traditional concepts were considered to be "supernatural" or beyond understanding. This study showed that traditional healers used conventional concepts and conventional practitioners could use traditional concepts. This suggests that conventional allopathic medical providers have the capacity to integrate biomedical concepts and other therapeutic and explanatory models. This information may be helpful to understand and improve risk management by anticipating and preventing potential reasons for failure in TM integration strategies and to enhance communication between patients, healers, and physicians to optimize TM or complementary and alternative medicine integration.Journal of Chiropractic Humanities 12/2012; 19(1):24-35.