The cultural sensitivity continuum of mental health interventions in Sub-Saharan Africa: A systematic review.

Journal Article (Journal Article;Review;Systematic Review)

Although there is a small but growing literature examining mental health interventions in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), there are very few systematic reviews of mental health interventions in the region. Those that exist primarily examine interventions for specific ailments (e.g., substance use, trauma) or specific modes of treatment (e.g., traditional healers, interpersonal psychotherapy). No systematic review has sought to assess the extent to which interventions used in SSA reflect local cultural context. The current systematic review is unique in that it aims to: quantify the number of published studies examining distinct mental health interventions in SSA that reflect local culture; identify and characterize mental health interventions that can be considered indigenous; identify Western mental health interventions in SSA that have undergone cultural adaptation and characterize the nature and extent of those adaptations; and provide recommendations for researchers and practitioners seeking to develop mental health interventions for African populations. A total of 980 articles were identified across five databases from January 31st to February 1st, 2021, and 29 were included in the study. The Ecological Validity Model (EVM) was used to assess degree of cultural sensitivity of non-indigenous interventions within eight cultural dimensions. Findings indicate that few studies examine mental health interventions in SSA and much of this research is authored by Western rather than local researchers. The most common intervention approaches were cognitive-behavioral therapy and problem-solving therapy. Assessment with the EVM framework demonstrated that concepts and goals of treatment were the cultural dimensions that were most likely to lack culturally sensitive elements. Recommendations are provided regarding achieving cultural sensitivity and collaborations between indigenous practitioners and contemporary healthcare systems. This review is an important step in evaluating progress towards achieving global equity in access to suitable mental health care.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Anakwenze, O

Published Date

  • August 2022

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 306 /

Start / End Page

  • 115124 -

PubMed ID

  • 35751989

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1873-5347

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.socscimed.2022.115124


  • eng

Conference Location

  • England