Send to

Choose Destination
Australas Psychiatry. 2009 Aug;17 Suppl 1:S125-7. doi: 10.1080/10398560902948381.

Incorporating sociocultural beliefs in mental health services in Kwaio, Solomon Islands.

Author information

School of Public Health, Tropical Medicine and Rehabilitation Sciences, James Cook University, Cairns, QLD, Australia.



The aim of this paper is to describe the newly established mental health services at Atoifi Adventist Hospital, Solomon Islands, the sociocultural context in which it operates, and illustrate how the service is engaging with the Kwaio community to understand and incorporate local sociocultural beliefs into prevention, treatment and recovery journeys.


Five remote hamlets in East Kwaio, Malaita Province were visited in early 2008. Interviews were undertaken with 20 people with a history of buru spirit possession and 30 of their family members.


Buru is a category of wild and malevolent spirits that possess people in East Kwaio and induce antisocial and unexpected behaviour. Signs of buru possession include mutism, suicidal ideas, delusion, aggression and social isolation. Traditional healers practice indigenous treatments with 50% of people receiving treatments described as cured, 30% temporary cured and 20% no effect from treatment.


The new mental health service at Atoifi is taking steps to incorporate sociocultural beliefs, including of people possessed by buru, into routine practice. This provides a greater potential to support prevention, treatment and recovery journeys to advance the community's social, emotional and spiritual wellbeing.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Atypon
Loading ...
Support Center