Dr. Young's LabCulture, somatization, and psychological distress: A study of symptom presentation in South Indian psychiatric patients from a public hospital
Deepa Rao, dissertation 2004
Prior clinical research has indicated that psychiatric patients in non-Western countries show a preference for expressing distress through somatic symptoms, whereas patients from Western countries show a preference for expressing distress through psychological symptoms. Other researchers have found evidence suggesting that the two types of symptoms co-exist in both Western and non-Western countries. The present study investigated the influence of Westernization, stigma, and severity of symptoms on Indian psychiatric patients' type of symptom presentation. Unlike previous studies, the present study explored symptom presentation in terms of a balance of symptoms, whether more psychological or somatic. Participants predominantly emphasized somatic symptoms as their first symptom and in response to symptom-directed interview questioning. Additionally, participants who were more Westernized tended to present a psychological balance of symptoms. Stigma, severity of symptoms, and level of education also influenced the balance of symptoms. The findings contribute to the literature on symptom presentation in non-Western cultures and suggest that several factors, including Westernization that occurs in non-Western countries as a result of globalization, can impact symptom presentation.