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: Suicide is a complex global public health problem, yet few studies have examined local socio-cultural explanatory models and other contextual factors surrounding suicide in low-and-middle-income countries. Such research is critical, as suicide frequency and etiology, as well as care-seeking in the case of distress, differ contextually and by sub-groups within a population. This is the first study of its kind to explore the dual perspectives of both healthcare workers and community members regarding suicide in Haiti. We conducted semi-structured, in-depth interviews between May and June 2011 with eight biomedical healthcare workers and 16 lay community members. Qualitative data analysis, drawing on interpretive phenomenological analysis, addressed themes including perceived suicide frequency, veracity of suicidal ideation claims, perceived causal factors, religious constructs related to suicide, and support resources for suicidality. Compared to community members, healthcare workers underestimated the frequency of suicide and were less likely to interpret suicide-related claims as representing true intent. Religious perspectives influenced attitudes toward suicide, albeit in different ways: Christian concern with the afterlife resulted in suicide being unacceptable and sinful, while Vodou explanatory frameworks displaced blame and stigma away from suicidal individuals. Healthcare workers' failure to recognize suicide as a serious problem suggests that the formal health system is currently ill-equipped to respond to suicide-related needs. Religious practice and community supports in rural Haiti may serve as essential resources for prevention programs.Social Science [?] Medicine 04/2013; 83:61-9. · 2.73 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: After the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, the large number of persons with major limb damage, amputations, shock, trauma, anxiety and depression placed a severe strain on mental health (MH) services. This qualitative study describes the impact and acceptability of a Mental Health Training Program (MHTP) implemented in the north of Haiti after the earthquake. A total of 113 healthcare workers (HCWs) participated in a training program designed to build local MH care capacity. The training curriculum draws on literature related to MH and the impact of the Haiti earthquake. Two focus groups were conducted with 16 HCWs; discussions centred on the personal and professional impact and acceptability of the training program. Results demonstrated that the MHTP changed the HCWs' perceptions about MH issues and provided them with the knowledge and skills to respond to growing community MH needs. Acceptability of the MHTP was related to the content covered, to the delivery mode of the content and to the cultural appropriateness of the program. Disasters of different types will continue to occur and to impact MH in communities around the world. MH training will allow nurses to quickly and effectively respond to disasters. A coordinated emergency plan that is subject to frequent review, rehearsal and evaluation is also essential.International Nursing Review 12/2013; 60(4):528-535. · 0.94 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Objective Many Haitian migrants live and work as undocumented laborers in the Dominican Republic. This study examines the legacy of anti-Haitian discrimination in the Dominican Republic and association of discrimination with mental health among Haitian migrants. Design This study used mixed methods to generate hypotheses for associations between discrimination and mental health of Haitian migrants in the Dominican Republic. In-depth interviews were conducted with 21 Haitian and 18 Dominican community members and clinicians. One hundred and twenty-seven Haitian migrants participated in a pilot cross-sectional community survey. Instruments included culturally adapted Kreyòl versions of the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) and Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI) and a locally developed function impairment scale. Results Haitian migrants described humiliation (imilyasyon) as a reason for mental distress and barrier to health care. Dominicans reported that discrimination (discriminación) was not a current social problem and attributed negative social interactions to sociocultural, behavioral, and biological differences between Dominicans and Haitians. These qualitative findings were supported in the quantitative analyses. Perceived discrimination was significantly associated with depression severity and functional impairment. Perceived mistreatment by Dominicans was associated with a 6.6-point increase in BDI score (90% confidence interval [CI]: 3.29, 9.9). Knowing someone who was interrogated or deported was associated with a 3.4-point increase in BAI score (90% CI: 0.22, 6.64). Conclusion Both qualitative and quantitative methods suggest that perceived discrimination and the experience of humiliation contribute to Haitian migrant mental ill-health and limit access to health care. Future research should evaluate these associations and identify intervention pathways for both improved treatment access and reduction of discrimination-related health risk factors.Ethnicity and Health 04/2014; · 1.20 Impact Factor