To date, cultural clinical research has primarily focused on differences between ethnic groups when investigating causal beliefs about mental disorders. While individual as well as contextual factors are considered important for gaining a better understanding of cultural influences, research on causal beliefs about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and cultural correlates in laypersons is scarce.
This study aimed at gaining a better understanding of the association between causal beliefs about PTSD and cultural aspects, as well as other contextual and individual correlates of causal beliefs.
We conducted a cross-sectional, vignette-based online survey with 737 laypersons from Mexico, Ecuador, Germany, Greece, and Russia. Participants completed the revised Illness Perception Questionnaire (IPQ-R) and reported several cultural and sociodemographic (e.g. country of residence, gender, personal values) as well as mental health–related variables (e.g. PTSD symptoms, previous seeking of help). Latent class analysis (LCA) was performed to identify subgroups of individuals expressing similar causal beliefs for PTSD. Multinomial logistic regression was used to analyse covariates of class membership.
LCA resulted in a three-class solution of casual beliefs: a traumatic event–focused class (41.1%); an intrapersonal causes class (40.1%); and a multiple causes class (18.0%). Multinomial logistic regression analysis revealed country of residence, gender, personal value of security, PTSD symptoms, and mental health literacy as significant covariates of class membership.
Integrating a more diverse concept of culture into cultural clinical research can be a valuable addition to group comparisons based on nationality or ethnicity. Cultural clinical research needs to move towards a more integrated approach that accounts for the complexity of culture. Including additional contextual and sociodemographic factors can help to reach a more accurate understanding of the cultural influences on the development of causal beliefs and mental health.