Utilization of Standardized Mental Health Assessments in Anthropological Research: Possibilities and Pitfalls.

Published

Journal Article

In the past decade anthropologists working the boundary of culture, medicine, and psychiatry have drawn from ethnographic and epidemiological methods to interdigitate data and provide more depth in understanding critical health problems. But rarely do these studies incorporate psychiatric inventories with ethnographic analysis. This article shows how triangulation of research methods strengthens scholars' ability (1) to draw conclusions from smaller data sets and facilitate comparisons of what suffering means across contexts; (2) to unpack the complexities of ethnographic and narrative data by way of interdigitating narratives with standardized evaluations of psychological distress; and (3) to enhance the translatability of narrative data to interventionists and to make anthropological research more accessible to policymakers. The crux of this argument is based on two discrete case studies, one community sample of Nicaraguan grandmothers in urban Nicaragua, and another clinic-based study of Mexican immigrant women in urban United States, which represent different populations, methodologies, and instruments. Yet, both authors critically examine narrative data and then use the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale to further unpack meaning of psychological suffering by analyzing symptomatology. Such integrative methodologies illustrate how incorporating results from standardized mental health assessments can corroborate meaning-making in anthropology while advancing anthropological contributions to mental health treatment and policy.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Mendenhall, E; Yarris, K; Kohrt, BA

Published Date

  • December 2016

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 40 / 4

Start / End Page

  • 726 - 745

PubMed ID

  • 27553610

Pubmed Central ID

  • 27553610

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1573-076X

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1007/s11013-016-9502-y

Language

  • eng

Conference Location

  • Netherlands