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Cult Med Psychiatry. 1989 Sep;13(3):275-95.

Ataques de nervios in the Puerto Rican Diagnostic Interview Schedule: the impact of cultural categories on psychiatric epidemiology.

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Department of Human Ecology, Cook College, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ 08903.


This paper examines the effect of the cultural category ataques de nervios on responses to the Puerto Rican Diagnostic Interview Schedule (DIS), a Spanish version of structured psychiatric diagnostic interview developed for the NIMH Epidemiologic Catchment Area study. An ataque de nervios scale was created from the Somatization items of the DIS to explore the effect of this culturally meaningful category of distress on responses to a standard psychiatric interview. Analysis of 1,513 cases from a representative sample of the island of Puerto Rico indicated that people reporting ataque symptoms fit the social characteristics described for ataques sufferers in the ethnographic literature. Qualitative data indicated that Puerto Ricans were reporting ataques de nervios in the panic section of the DIS. Questions are raised about the validity of the somatization and panic sections of the DIS in cross-cultural research with Hispanics.

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