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Psychiatr Q. 2002 Winter;73(4):271-95.

The cultural formulation: a method for assessing cultural factors affecting the clinical encounter.

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Columbia University, New York, NY, USA.


The growing cultural pluralism of US society requires clinicians to examine the impact of cultural factors on psychiatric illness, including on symptom presentation and help-seeking behavior. In order to render an accurate diagnosis across cultural boundaries and formulate treatment plans acceptable to the patient, clinicians need a systematic method for eliciting and evaluating cultural information in the clinical encounter. This article describes one such method, the Cultural Formulation model, expanding on the guidelines published in DSM-IV. It consists of five components, assessing cultural identity, cultural explanations of the illness, cultural factors related to the psychosocial environment and levels of functioning, cultural elements of the clinician-patient relationship, and the overall impact of culture on diagnosis and care. We present a brief historical overview of the model and use a case scenario to illustrate each of its components and the substantial effect on illness course and treatment outcome of implementing the model in clinical practice.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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