Article

A cross-cultural study of family functioning

Butler Hospital; Brown University; Medical University; Park-wood Hospital; Rhode Island Hospital
Contemporary Family Therapy 09/1990; 12(5):439-454. DOI: 10.1007/BF00891712

ABSTRACT The Family Assessment Device (FAD) was used to compare patterns of family functioning in two cultural settings, North America and Hungary. The sample size consisted of 95 nonclinical North American families and 58 nonclinical Hungarian families. No cross-cultural differences were found in the families'' general functioning nor in their affective involvement or affective responsiveness as measured by the FAD. Hungarian families, however, perceived their functioning as significantly better than the North American families in problem-solving and in communication. North American families rated themselves significantly better than the Hungarians in setting family rules and boundaries and in meeting their family responsibilities. Results from this study suggest that cultural values can affect a family''s functioning and that differences in areas of family functioning can be captured using the FAD. A discussion of broad societal values of the two cultures was used to interpret the contrasting patterns of family functioning.Cross-cultural studies serve many purposes. In general they provide knowledge about the different cultures under investigation. As such, they broaden and enrich our perspectives of ourselves and the world around us. More specifically they highlight similarities and differences across cultures, information that can be helpful in further refining our understanding of the impact of diverse and varying socio-political forces.A topic of particular interest to family therapists and researchers is family functioning in different cultural settings. In spite of continuing research in this area, few studies examine cross-cultural patterns of family interactions and even fewer do so with instruments specifically designed to assess family functioning.From a family perspective, particularly looking at pathology in family functioning, cross-cultural comparisons can be used to highlight areas of dysfunction common to families irrespective of the cultural context. From a cross-cultural perspective, family comparisons can be used to point out the cultural effects and emphases given to different dimensions of functioning within a common system (i.e., the family unit).Both conceptual and methodological problems have contributed to shortcomings in previous cross-cultural studies (Fabrega, 1974; Kleinman, 1987; Flaherty et al., 1988; Rogler, 1989). A basic criticism of such studies has been the assumption that meanings and values in one culture are equivalent to those in another.Another issue, which is particularly pertinent to our study, is the use of an instrument which is developed in one culture and administered in another cultural setting. A potential problem this raises is inferring cultural differences between groups when the translated and the original instruments are not actually comparable in meaning. In fact, one objective of the study was to see whether our own self-report measure of family functioning, the Family Assessment Device (FAD, Epstein et al., 1978, 1983), could be successfully used in another cultural setting.The following report is part of a larger research project, conducted in 1986–87, that compared depressed and nonclinical families across two cultures. The findings presented here are comparisons between nonclinical Hungarian and nonclinical North American families. In our earlier study differences in family interactions between clinically depressed and nonclinical families were evident in both cultural settings (Keitner et al., in press). It was not clear, however, if significant cross-cultural differences in family functioning would be found for the normal group of families and, if so, how these would differ from their ill counterparts. Inclusion of the normal families thus served two purposes, as controls in the larger study to test within cultural differences and as comparison groups in a separate analysis to test between cultural differences.A specific objective of this study was to contrast patterns of perceived family functioning in nonclinical Hungarian families and North American families. Another objective was to determine if the Family Assessment Device (FAD), a self-report measure of family functioning, could be successfully used in different cultural contexts. Hungary was chosen as an appropriate country of study for several reasons. It is at the crossroads of East and West, sharing enough similarities with western culture to validate comparisons, yet different enough in both its cultural and sociopolitical system that some differences could be expected to emerge. Because it is likely that the Hungarian social system is less familiar to readers than that of North American, the results are discussed with particular reference to Hungary.

1 Bookmark
 · 
64 Views
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: There is mounting evidence that family functioning is linked to childhood overweight and obesity, and that both of these are associated with health-related behaviours and adverse health outcomes in children and adolescents. This paper systematically examines the peer-reviewed evidence regarding the relationship between child and adolescent overweight and obesity and family functioning. Peer-reviewed literature published between 1990 and 2011 hosted in Scopus, Pub Med or Psyc INFO were searched, in addition to the reference lists of included papers. Twenty-one studies met the selection criteria. Of the 17 identified cross-sectional and longitudinal studies, 12 reported significant associations between family functioning and childhood overweight and obesity. The instruments used to measure family functioning in the identified studies were heterogeneous. Poor family functioning was associated with increased risk of obesity and overweight in children and adolescents, and obese children and adolescents were more likely to come from families with poor family functioning. Aspects of family functioning which were associated with increased risk of child and adolescent obesity included poor communication, poor behaviour control, high levels of family conflict and low family hierarchy values. Half (2/4) of the identified intervention studies showed a significant relationship between family functioning and changes in child weight. The results demonstrate that family functioning is linked to obesity; however, higher level evidence and greater understanding of the mechanisms behind this relationship are required. The results indicate a need for a standardised family functioning measure applicable across populations. The results provide evidence of the value of considering family functioning in childhood obesity research and intervention.
    International Journal of Obesity 11/2013; · 5.22 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The purpose of this research study was to examine the effect of ethnicity on the family functioning, personality, and depression in an Iranian sample. Participants were 600 couples of Shushtarian, Dezfulian, Bakhtiarian, and Arabic ethnics from the Khuzestan province. A demographic questionnaire, the Family Assessment Device (FAD), the Eysenck Personality Questionnaire-Revised-Abbreviated (EPQ-R-A), and the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) used in this study. Findings indicated that ethnicity has significant role in family functioning in both spouses and wives. There were significant differences between genders in problem solving, affective communication, and sexual behavior pattern disturbance. Extroversion has a positive relationship with family functioning, and a negative relationship with sexual behavior pattern disturbance. Neuroticism has a significant negative relationship with family functioning, and a positive relationship with sexual behavior pattern disturbance. Finally, depression has significant negative and positive correlations with family functioning and sexual behavior pattern disturbance respectively.
    American Journal of Family Therapy 01/2011; · 0.54 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: To examine children's coping behaviour, TV viewing hours and family functioning in four ethnic groups and factors related to children's coping behaviour. This study was part of two larger research projects investigating children's health behaviours in the United States and Taiwan. Fifty-six White American children of European ancestry, 66 Mexican American children, 68 Chinese American children and 95 native Taiwanese children were included in the analysis. Standardized instruments were used to measure coping strategies, children's TV viewing hours and family functioning. There were significant differences in the types of stressor that children of different ethnicity reported. Similarities and differences were found in the four ethnic groups regarding the top five most frequently used and most effective coping strategies. Multiple regressions identified two variables that contributed significantly to the variance in the frequency of children's coping strategies--ethnicity and poorer behaviour control in the family. Ethnicity was the only variable found to contribute to the variance in coping effectiveness. Significant differences were found in the number of hours children spent watching TV. Findings suggest that children of different ethnicity utilized different types of coping strategies and ethnicity is one of the important factors related to children's coping behaviour. These findings provide evidence for nurses to assess children's coping behaviour and TV viewing and provide children with healthier alternatives.
    International Nursing Review 10/2005; 52(3):186-95. · 0.94 Impact Factor