Cultural Influences on Psychiatrists' Constructions of Mental Health Problems: a Repertory Grid Study
Addo, Mary Eno
Background: The literature suggests that people from different cultures make sense of their experiences in different ways, including how they understand mental health problems. Much of this research focused on how clients from different cultures understand their mental health problems. There are a few studies on clinicians’ construal of clients. There appears to be a lack of research looking at how clinicians from various ethnicities construe clients from different ethnicities. Aims: The research explored whether psychiatrists from different ethnicities have different ways of understanding clients of similar or different ethnic background to themselves. Additionally, differences in the ways in which psychiatrists from different ethnicities construe clients and people significant to them in their personal lives were explored. Method: Using a cross-sectional approach, within subject and between-subject designs were employed. Seventeen Trainee Psychiatrists were recruited from various academic settings. Repertory grid technique was used to elicit significant people in the participant’s life and clients they have worked with as well as constructs, on which all the elements were rated. Results: The study showed that the participants did not find clients of the same ethnicity more meaningful, similar to themselves or easier to understand than the clients of a different ethnicity. However, it was found that the participants were more conflicted in their construing of clients of a different ethnicity. The case examples showed differences in the ways that psychiatrists from different ethnicities make sense of clients. Conclusions: In a novel study that used repertory grid technique to explore an ethnically diverse group of psychiatrists’ construing of clients, the findings highlight the implicit processes that can influence clinical practice when clinicians encounter clients from diverse ethnic backgrounds. In light of working cross-culturally as clinicians, the study addresses the need to acknowledge the impact of cultural differences; through reflection, consultation, and training.
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