Dr. Young's LabCulture, somatization, and psychological distress: Symptom presentation in South Indian patients from a public psychiatric hospital
Rao, D., Young, M.A., Raguram, R.
A number of clinical research studies have indicated that psychiatric patients in non-Western countries tend to express distress through somatic symptoms, and that patients from Western countries tend to express distress through psychological symptoms. Other research has 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, personal concern about stigma, and severity of symptoms on the symptom presentation of 60 South Indian psychiatric patients, using both open-ended and symptom-directed interviewing methods. Symptom presentation was explored in terms of a balance of psychological and somatic symptoms. Participants predominantly emphasized somatic symptoms as their first spontaneously reported symptom and in response to symptom-directed interview questioning. Additionally, participants who were more Westernized tended to present a more psychological balance of symptoms. Personal concern about 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 the manner in which individuals express distress.