The prevalence of ataques de nervios in the puerto rico disaster study: The role of culture in psychiatric epidemiology

Peter J. Guarnaccia, Glorisa Canino, Maritza Rubio-Stipec, Milagros Bravo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

133 Scopus citations

Abstract

This paper presents one of the few epidemiological studies of a popular category of distress, ataques de nervios (attacks of nerves), in the cross-cultural psychiatric literature. As part of a major study of the psychological consequences of the 1985 floods and mudslides which caused considerable damage and death in Puerto Rico, a question was added to the Diagnostic Interview Schedule/Disaster Supplement concerning ataques de nervios. This additional item provided the opportunity to carry out the first study of this important Puerto Rican popular category of distress using a representative, community-based sample. This paper addresses several key questions about ataques de nervios which come from previous psychiatric and anthropological literatures concering the social correlates of who experiences an ataque de nervios and the relationship of ataques to social distress and psychiatric disorder. People who reported an ataque de nervios were more likely to be female, older, less educated, and formerly married. They were also more likely to meet criteria for anxiety and depressive disorders than those who had not experienced an ataque. The picture that emerges from our analyses is that those who suffer from a combination of social disadvantage, psychiatric disorder, and poor perceived health are more likely to experience an ataque de nervios.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)157-165
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Nervous and Mental Disease
Volume181
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1993

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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