This study describes gender-specific beliefs about depression among Afghan refugees, a population shown to be highly distressed. A 73-item questionnaire covering causes, symptoms, and treatments of depression, developed through free-listing techniques and supplemented with items from existing scales, was administered to a non-random sample of 50 men and 43 women in San Diego County. Demographic information and data on baseline distress levels were also collected. The Cultural Consensus Model was used to estimate the culturally correct answer for each question, and to assess the proportion of shared beliefs within and between groups. Results from consensus analysis indicated a homogenous response pattern present for each group, and collectively when groups were combined. The proportion of shared beliefs across all depression domains was significantly (p < .05) higher among women (.52) than in men (.46). Women also reported significantly higher agreement in terms of depression causality (women = .54, men = .42). Equal agreement (.45) was observed in groups regarding symptoms. Items relating to treatments were the most widely recognized by men (.53) and women (.57); however, significant differences in agreement were not observed. Results did not vary by demographic characteristics or by distress experiences for either group. Causes were associated with cultural conflicts and social isolation; women classified more somatic items, and both groups believed that treatments for depression included seeking professional help as well as lay techniques such as engaging in religious activities and exercise. Understanding cultural beliefs about depression among Afghan refugees could provide insights into the cultural and social reasons that influence help-seeking behaviors and the presentation of depressive symptoms in clinical settings, in turn, leading to improvements in service provision and depression care.

LLU Discipline

Social Policy and Social Research


Social Work and Social Ecology


School of Behavioral Health

First Advisor

James, Sigrid

Second Advisor

Montgomery, Susanne

Third Advisor

Weller, Susan C.

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Level


Year Degree Awarded

January 2013

Date (Title Page)




Library of Congress/MESH Subject Headings

Refugees - Psychology; Afghanistan;

Subject - Local

Afghan Refugees; Depression; Cultural Consensus Model of Depression; San Diego; Calif.



Page Count

203 p.

Digital Format


Digital Publisher

Loma Linda University Libraries

Usage Rights

This title appears here courtesy of the author, who has granted Loma Linda University a limited, non-exclusive right to make this publication available to the public. The author retains all other copyrights.


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Loma Linda University. Del E. Webb Memorial Library. University Archives

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Social Policy Commons