Cultural Influences on Causal Beliefs About Depression Among Latino Immigrants

Susan Caplan, Javier Escobar, Manuel Paris, Jennifer Alvidrez, Jane K. Dixon, Mayur M. Desai, Lawrence D. Scahill, Robin Whittemore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Purpose: This study describes causal beliefs about depression among Dominican, Colombian, and Ecuadorian immigrants. The authors describe participants’ narratives about how particular supernatural or religious beliefs may contribute to or alleviate depression. Method: Latino primary care patients (n = 177) were interviewed with the Beliefs About Causes of Depression Scale, a list of 35 items rated from not at all important to extremely important. Participants had the option of expanding on responses using an informal conversational approach. Underlying themes of these explanatory comments were derived from narrative and content analysis. Results: Major themes that emerged were Psychosocial and Religious and Supernatural causal beliefs. A third theme emerged that represented the integration of these categories in the context of the immigrant experience. Discussion and Conclusions: This article adds to the understanding of cross-cultural beliefs about depression. Psychosocial stressors related to the immigrant experience and adverse life events were highly endorsed, but the meaning of these stressors was construed in terms of religious and cultural values. To provide culturally appropriate services, nurses should be aware of and discuss the patient's belief systems, illness interpretations, and expectations of treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)68-77
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Transcultural Nursing
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Nursing


  • Latinos/Hispanics
  • causal beliefs
  • depression
  • illness perceptions
  • immigrants


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