Illness Beliefs and Explanatory Models of Psychosis amongst British South Asians

  • Aqeela Bhikha

    Student thesis: Master of Philosophy


    Background: there has been a rise in the interest of understanding, exploring and extracting explanatory models in current research in psychosis. Explanatory models offer justifications and propose explanations for sickness and the treatment evaluations and choice, as well as conveying the significance of personal and social issues on the experience of sickness. They are held by both patients and treating clinicians; the connection between the explanatory model of the patient and of the treating clinician, is pivotal when treating an 'episode of sickness' (Kleinman, 1980).Therefore, explanatory models may be an important predictor of clinical outcome. Understanding the explanatory model of the patient's illness, may in turn assist the clinician in providing effective treatment and enhancing patient outcome and satisfaction. Objectives: to investigate and elicit explanatory models of psychosis amongst South Asians living in the UK using both quantitative and qualitative methods and to examine the relationship between beliefs and perceptions of mental health problems and perceived outcomes.Method: explanatory models of psychosis were examined using the Short Explanatory Model Interview (SEMI) in a sample of 45 patients. The Illness Perception Questionnaire for Schizophrenia (IPQS) was using to examine illness beliefs.Results: the majority of patients (55%) attributed their illness to supernatural causes; some identified interpersonal causes (20%), stress (18%) or biological (4.4%). Most patients held dual explanatory models of psychosis (77.7%), combining prescribed medication and seeing a traditional faith healer as a treatment method. Duration of untreated psychosis was not significantly associated with explanatory models of psychosis. The Illness Perception Questionnaire for schizophrenia needs slight modifications to make it culturally sensitive and fully appropriate for South Asians.Conclusion: the results suggests that patients hold multi-explanatory models in order to make sense of their illness and these stem from deep rooted traditional beliefs. Traditional models of psychosis are still widely held. This highlights the importance of educational intervention and working together with traditional faith healers in the UK to provide a positive support system. Further work is required in order to fully understand the relationship between explanatory models of psychosis and duration of untreated psychosis.
    Date of Award1 Aug 2012
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • The University of Manchester
    SupervisorNusrat Husain (Supervisor)


    • South Asian
    • Ethnic
    • Schizophrenia
    • Illness Beliefs
    • Psychosis
    • Explanatory Models
    • Illness Models

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