A cross-cultural study of family functioning

Rhode Island Hospital
Contemporary Family Therapy 09/1990; 12(5):439-454. DOI: 10.1007/BF00891712


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.

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    • "A later study looks at internal reliabilities and factorial validity (Kabacoff et al., 1990) and provides support for the continued use of the FAD. Although the FAD was developed in North America, it has been used with families receiving therapy in the U K (Goodyer et al., 1982) and Hungary (Keitner et al., 1990). These studies indicate that the model has some cross-cultural validity. "
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    ABSTRACT: The Family Assessment Device (FAD) was given to a community sample of intact families with young children. Responses by mothers and fathers were analysed with a view to providing ways of indicating which families might benefit from preventive intervention. Mother/father agreement was significant on five of the seven scales, with a failure to reach significance on Affective Involvement and General Functioning. The highest correlation between mothers and fathers was on the Roles scale (r = 0.53). However, mothers' means for Roles were significantly higher than fathers', indicating that mothers were less satisfied with family functioning in this area. In addition to a family mean score greater than a cut-off value as an indicator of unhealthy functioning, present results suggest including those families whose respondents strongly disagree (indicated by scores lying on either side of the cut-off and a difference of more than two standard deviations). With this double criterion, Roles and Affective Involvement were the dimensions most frequently scored as unhealthy. Seventeen per cent of the families scored in the unhealthy range on four or more of the seven dimensions. This paper considers how to decide where family intervention might be helpful and raises the question of whether screening families might be more widely undertaken, for example by health visitors, to identify those families who are at risk of family dysfunction.
    Journal of Family Therapy 11/2003; 13(4):411 - 421. DOI:10.1046/j..1991.00437.x · 1.02 Impact Factor
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    • "Grotevant and Carlson (1989) suggested that the FAD has a number of strengths: good theoretical grounding, high internal consistency on all subscales, good test-retest reliability, scores unrelated to social desirability, and successful discrimination between clinical and nonclinical groups (Akister & Stevenson- Hinde, 1991; Sawyer, Sams, Baghurst, Cross, & Kalucy, 1988). Although developed in North America, the FAD has been widely used in other countries, suggesting cross-cultural validity, a relevant consideration for a family assessment measure (Keitner et al., 1990). Since Grotevant and Carlson's (1989) review, additional psychometric investigation has confirmed the factor structure of the FAD in psychiatric, medical, and nonclinical samples, with adequate internal reliability for all scales except "roles" (Kabacoff et al.. 1990). "
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    ABSTRACT: Presents a critical overview of the literature of family psychosocial outcome after traumatic brain injury (TBI). Thirty-seven family outcome studies were reviewed. Most of the data presented were on psychosocial outcome of primary caregivers, most often parents and spouses. A smaller amount of outcome literature on siblings and children of a parent with TBI was also considered. In the studies reviewed, 23 different standardized psychosocial outcome measures were used in addition to semistructured, in-depth interviews and indexes such as medication usage and counseling uptake. A clear bias was evident in the literature whereby family outcome was likely to be viewed by researchers in terms of stress and burden on relatives. Recommendations were made for future family outcome research to develop a more theoretically coherent framework of family adaptation post-TBI to expand our understanding of relatives' psychosocial outcome and to shift the research focus to the resilience of families and their ability to work toward positive outcomes. There is a need to use standardized, TBI-specific measures with cross-cultural validity to have less variability in outcome measurement and more consensus in operationalizing outcome in order to enhance comparability between studies. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
    Rehabilitation Psychology 01/1999; 44(1):6-35. DOI:10.1037/0090-5550.44.1.6 · 1.91 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Family life is organized by rules, and most of them are unspokenly agreed-upon by family members and may be even out of awareness. Implicit family process and couple rules may facilitate or constrain family relationship and intimate couple relationship growth. Prevalence of family rules may be different across cultures. Family members may perceive their rules and family functioning differently according to their family position and gender. Married couples may view their relationship rules differently than couples who cohabit. This study utilized the Family Implicit Rules Profile (FIRP) and the Couples Implicit Rules Profile (CIRP) Questionnaires to answer these research questions. The questionnaires were translated into Hungarian, and the content validity of the Hungarian translation was established. Hungarian non-clinical families and couples were compared to American (U.S.) non-clinical families and couples to examine how prevalent implicit rules were in the two cultures. According to the findings, Hungarian families and couples scored lower on the total FIRP and CIRP scores. Hungarian families perceived implicit family rules regarding kindness and monitoring less prevalent, and rules regarding constraining their thoughts, feelings and self more prevalent than American families. No differences were found in expressiveness and connection and inappropriate caretaking of parents between the two cultures. Hungarian couples perceived their implicit relationship rules regarding kindness, expressiveness and connection and monitoring less prevalent than American couples. No differences in implicit rules about constraining thoughts, feelings and self and inappropriate caretaking of partner were found between the two cultures. Mothers in both cultures viewed their families in a more positive light than other family members, and female family members (mothers and daughters) were more positive than their male counterparts (fathers and sons) about rules in their families in both cultures. Sons in both cultures perceived more responsibility to protect their parents emotionally than did daughters. Married couples in both cultures perceived their relationship rules more favorably in terms of kindness and monitoring than cohabiting couples. Results were interpreted in the context of cultural differences between the American and the Hungarian cultures. Limitations and the possibility of future research are discussed. Thesis (M.S.)--Brigham Young University. Dept. of Marriage and Family Therapy, 2006. Includes bibliographical references (p. 51-56).
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