|SYMPOSIUM (THEME SECTION: CAREGIVING AND CAREGIVERS)
|Year : 2016 | Volume
| Issue : 1 | Page : 25-27
Cross-cultural differences in caregiving: The relevance to community care in India
School of Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences, Community, Culture and Mental Health Unit, Fremantle Hospital, The University of Western Australia, Crawley WA, Australia
|Date of Web Publication||17-Feb-2016|
Prof. Mohan Isaac
School of Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences, Community, Culture and Mental Health Unit, Fremantle Hospital, The University of Western Australia (M704), 35, Stirling Highway, CRAWLEY WA 6009
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
Deinstitutionalization movement in the West brought about community care movement of mentally ill. Because of this, caring for the mentally ill became an important aspect. In resource-rich countries, caregiving is done by trained persons and in resource-poor country (like India), caregiving was done by untrained family members. Cross-cultural factors such as interdependence and greater family involvement in care have contributed for family members' decision-making in caregiving in India. Nevertheless, cross-cultural similarities in caregiving are more striking than differences. Genuine caregiving of mentally ill will make significant difference to the recipient. In India, majority of the persons with mental illness are cared by family members. Family members lack knowledge about the nature of the illness, have little support and advice by the medical professional, and have difficulties in understanding illness-related behavior. Hence, in India, there is need to develop effective, user-friendly, educational modules in all languages; to increase the knowledge of the carers about the mental illness, and help in decreasing their distress.
Keywords: Caregiving, culture, mental illness
|How to cite this article:|
Isaac M. Cross-cultural differences in caregiving: The relevance to community care in India. Indian J Soc Psychiatry 2016;32:25-7
|How to cite this URL:|
Isaac M. Cross-cultural differences in caregiving: The relevance to community care in India. Indian J Soc Psychiatry [serial online] 2016 [cited 2021 Jun 20];32:25-7. Available from: https://www.indjsp.org/text.asp?2016/32/1/25/176763
| Introduction|| |
"What credibility and what societal relevance do we have as a profession, if we disseminate the evidence in scientific journals but do not care about the political action required to implement it?"
"The political mission of psychiatry" - Priebe. 
Comprehensive management of persons with severe mentally ill disorders not only involves treatment of patients but also requires addressing the issues related to caregiving. In resource-poor countries such as India, families of patients with severe mental illness have been carers (informal) for their family members. In Western countries, trained caregivers (formal) provide care for the mentally ill.
In India, majority of the persons with severe mental disorders stay with family and family members are the carers. Studies conducted on schizophrenia in India have showed that around 90% of them stay with their family members compared to one-third or two-third in Western countries. ,,,
This article will cover briefly on (1) caregiving for persons with severe mental disorders, in the West; (2) role of family in mental illness; (3) certain universal aspects of caregiving for persons with severe mental disorders; (4) Cross-cultural norms regarding caregiving; (5) impact of caregiving on caregivers; (6) family interventions; and (7) caregiving: Relevance to delivery of community care in India.
| Caregiving for Persons with Severe Mental Disorders in the West|| |
Community care movement of mentally ill in the West was brought about due to deinstitutionalization movement. This movement started in the mid-part of the last century moved many patients with severe mental illness or developmental disorder from mental asylum to community. The deinstitutionalization movement as per Eisenberg and Guttmacher was initiated by three factors: (1) A sociopolitical movement for community mental health services and open hospitals; (2) the advent of psychotropic drugs able to manage psychotic episodes; and (3) financial imperatives (in the USA specifically, to shift costs from state to federal budgets).  This shift into community care had overall benefits but had its share of problems. Community care movement had its share of problems due to political will, funding, manpower, and stigma attached to patients and carers with mental illness. Because of this movement, caring for the mentally ill persons had become an important issue. In resource-rich countries, the caregiving was taken by trained paid manpower (formal) and in resource-poor countries, the caregiving was taken by the informal caregiving (family members, relatives, friends, etc.).
| Role of Family in Mental Illness|| |
Initial ideas about role of family in mental illness were heavily influenced by the psychoanalytical theories. Family member's influences were thought to be etiological in serious mental illness. The classic example was concept of "schizophrenogenic mother" (dominant and overprotective but basically rejecting mother) in causing schizophrenia.  Family members were blamed for faulty, subtle communication styles (e.g., double-blind communication, marital schism, and marital skew) and accused of inadvertently abusing their offspring. , These theories lead to family therapy which tried to help families correct faulty communication styles which were not successful. In around 1970s, psychodynamic theories about causation of schizophrenia were in decline and biological explanatory theories of schizophrenia were giving results. Family members/relatives rejected their role in causation of illness. Around the same time, relatives of families with schizophrenia formed National Advocacy Organizations (National Alliance on Mental Illness) which also rejected role of family in etiology of schizophrenia. As per Leff, "despite lack of confirmatory evidence, there was a pervasive climate among psychiatric professionals of blaming relatives, and consequently ostracizing them. Relatives were naturally deeply hurt, baffled, and resentful of this exclusion by their loved one's professional carers." 
Early studies of outcome of relocating long-term mental hospital residents into community settings were conducted by Brown and Brown et al. in the UK. ,, Studies done in different cultures and countries have consistently reported that high warmth in interpersonal environment of the households where patients resided was an important predictor of good outcome. Worst outcomes were in environments where there was critical comments, little or no warmth, and support. ,
| Universal Aspects of Caregiving|| |
Literature has consistently shown that genuine caregiving makes significant difference for the recipient. , Studies in all societies worldwide have showed that more often women than men care for patients with mentally ill. , Caring for patients with severe mental illness for prolonged duration has physical, social, emotional, and financial impacts of caregivers. ,, The contribution of the carers for management of patients with severe mental illness is often not adequately recognized. The carers more often crave for more information about illness, skills, respite, and recognition for their care.
| Cross-cultural Norms Regarding Caregiving|| |
Centre for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition defined culture as "shared patterns of behaviors and interactions, cognitive constructs, and affective understanding that are learned through a process of socialization. These shared patterns identify the members of a culture group while also distinguishing those of another group."  Western Anglo-Saxon culture emphasizes on independence and individual productivity whereas Asian (Indian) emphasizes on interdependence, greater family involvement in care, and decision-making. 
Family members being caregivers in India are mainly due to cultural beliefs (such as kinship obligation, family taking preeminent role in decision taking) and/or lack of mental health infrastructure. Although rapid societal changes (urbanization, nuclear families, etc.) have made caregiving burdensome to family members, still family involvement in care was preference of the family members. 
| Impact of Caregiving in Caregivers|| |
Caring for a patient at home involves considerable "burden." Burden is one of the most commonly studied impacts on the caregivers worldwide. It is divided into objective burden (physical problems, financial problems, and restriction on social life due to caregiving experienced by family members) and subjective burden (caregiver's emotional reaction such as distress, perceived loss, and worry).  Studies have showed that chronic severe mental illness causes significant extent of caregiver burden. ,,
| Family-based Interventions|| |
While optimal drug therapy is the cornerstone of the clinical management of persons with severe mental illness, substantial benefits have been reported with addition of family interventions. Family interventions are called by various titles, such as family work, behavioral family therapy, and family psychoeducation. The common elements of family intervention are education about the illness, assessment of family's strengths, and weaknesses; training in problem-solving skills; and improving communication skills.  Family intervention studies have showed to reduce of residual symptoms, improve social functioning; enhance family function; reduce stress, greater drug compliance, dose reduction, carer morbidity, and cost of care in schizophrenia and other mental disorders.  The improvement in these factors leads to clinically significant impact on the course of major mental disorders. There are very few studies in India on family interventions in mental illness (on schizophrenia) which showed impact on caregivers. ,,
| Caregiving: Relevance to Delivery of Community Care in India|| |
In India, large proportion of patients is cared for by families, extended families, and other care providers. Relatives have difficulties in understanding illness-related behavior. They often lack knowledge about the nature of the illness. Families often tolerate a great deal and do not complain much. Relatives often receive very little support, advice, or information from the professionals engaged in treating the patient. , Families want better communication with care providers and more information about illness.
In India, there is lack of manpower and resource for caregivers of patients with mental illness. There is a need to provide pragmatic family educational interventions at all mental health care settings. Develop effective, user friendly, educational modules, in all languages in the country. Develop and widely disseminate manuals for families about mental illness (in vernacular), all over the country. This will increase the knowledge of the carers about the mental illness and help in decreasing their distress.
There is a need to support the development of "Associations of families of the mentally ill" in every state and empower and involve them in care. Generate governmental support as well as support from philanthropic organizations / foundations for formation and sustenance of family groups / associations.
| Conclusion|| |
This brief article would like to highlight that caregiving has an impact on the course of mental illness. Cross-cultural similarities in caregiving (such as genuine caring impacts illness and carers need for appreciation) are more striking than differences.
Financial support and sponsorship
Conflicts of interest
There are no conflicts of interest.
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