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J Psychiatr Pract. 2012 Mar;18(2):73-85. doi: 10.1097/01.pra.0000413273.01682.05.

The psychiatric cultural formulation: translating medical anthropology into clinical practice.

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AGGARWAL: New York State Psychiatric Institute and Columbia University Department of Psychiatry, New York, NY 10025, USA.


This article reviews proposed revisions to the DSM-IV Outline for Cultural Formulation for clinical practice. The author begins by exploring the theoretical development of and assumptions involved in the Cultural Formulation. A case presentation is then used to demonstrate shortcomings in the current implementation of the Cultural Formulation based on older definitions of culture. Finally, the author recommends practical questions based on the growing anthropological literature concerning the interpersonal elements of culture and the social course of illness. A simple clear format that clinically translates social science concepts has the potential to increase use of the Cultural Formulation by all psychiatrists, not just those specializing in cultural psychiatry.

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