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Fam Pract. 2006 Dec;23(6):651-8. Epub 2006 Jul 28.

Understandings of depression: an interview study of Yoruba, Bangladeshi and White British people.

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Brixton Hill Group Practice Beechdale Road, London, UK.



Depression remains a major public health problem, but little is known about the views and understandings of depression held by many ethnic groups. Aim. To explore views and understandings of depression in three ethnic groups-Yoruba, Sylheti-speaking Bangladeshi and White British-living in South London.


Qualitative, semi-structured interviews, using vignettes describing depressed individuals.


General practice and the community in Southwark, South London, UK. Participants. 20 Yoruba, 20 Bangladeshi and 20 White British people, recruited from primary care.


Interviews (in English for Yoruba and White British, in Sylheti for the Bangladeshi participants) were recorded and transcribed. Atlas ti software was used to organize the data.


Views on the causes and cures for depression were diverse. A diagnosis of depression can have adverse social consequences in all groups. Magic had a role in both causation and cure in the Yoruba and to a lesser extent in the Bangladeshi groups. Religion was important for many people in all groups. Family factors were dominant in the Bangladeshi participants, whilst the White British often identified more 'psychological' causes of depression. Coping methods and health-seeking behaviours included religion, family, friends and neighbours, and becoming more active. Formal psychiatric interventions and taking antidepressants were not priorities.


Cultural models of depression, including its causes and treatment, are diverse, and are different among cultural groups. This study raises questions about the value of Western approaches to mild and moderate depression in these groups of patients.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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