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Value Orientations and Mental Health: A Theoretical Review


Heim, Eva Maria; Maercker, Andreas; Boer, Diana (2019). Value Orientations and Mental Health: A Theoretical Review. Transcultural psychiatry, 56(3):449-470.

Abstract

Cross-national epidemiological studies show that prevalence rates of common mental disorders (i.e. depression, anxiety disorders, and PTSD) vary considerably between countries, suggesting cultural differences. In order to gather evidence on how culture relates to the aetiology and phenomenology of mental disorders, finding meaningful empirical instruments for capturing the latent (i.e. non-visible) construct of 'culture' is vital. In this review, we suggest using value orientations for this purpose. We focus on Schwartz's value theory, which includes two levels of values: cultural and personal. We identified nine studies on personal values and four studies on cultural values and their relationship with common mental disorders. This relationship was assessed among very heterogeneous cultural groups; however, no consistent correlational pattern occurred. The most compelling evidence suggests that the relationship between personal values and mental disorders is moderated by the cultural context. Hence, assessing mere correlations between personal value orientations and self-reported symptoms of psychopathology, without taking into account the cultural context, does not yield meaningful results. This theoretical review reveals important research gaps: Most studies aimed to explain how values relate to the aetiology of mental disorders, whereas the question of phenomenology was largely neglected. Moreover, all included studies used Western instruments for assessing mental disorders, which may not capture culturally-specific phenomena of mental distress. Finding systematic relationships between values and mental disorders may contribute to making more informed hypotheses about how psychopathology is expressed under different cultural circumstances, and how to culturally adapt psychological interventions.

Abstract

Cross-national epidemiological studies show that prevalence rates of common mental disorders (i.e. depression, anxiety disorders, and PTSD) vary considerably between countries, suggesting cultural differences. In order to gather evidence on how culture relates to the aetiology and phenomenology of mental disorders, finding meaningful empirical instruments for capturing the latent (i.e. non-visible) construct of 'culture' is vital. In this review, we suggest using value orientations for this purpose. We focus on Schwartz's value theory, which includes two levels of values: cultural and personal. We identified nine studies on personal values and four studies on cultural values and their relationship with common mental disorders. This relationship was assessed among very heterogeneous cultural groups; however, no consistent correlational pattern occurred. The most compelling evidence suggests that the relationship between personal values and mental disorders is moderated by the cultural context. Hence, assessing mere correlations between personal value orientations and self-reported symptoms of psychopathology, without taking into account the cultural context, does not yield meaningful results. This theoretical review reveals important research gaps: Most studies aimed to explain how values relate to the aetiology of mental disorders, whereas the question of phenomenology was largely neglected. Moreover, all included studies used Western instruments for assessing mental disorders, which may not capture culturally-specific phenomena of mental distress. Finding systematic relationships between values and mental disorders may contribute to making more informed hypotheses about how psychopathology is expressed under different cultural circumstances, and how to culturally adapt psychological interventions.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, further contribution
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > Health (social science)
Health Sciences > Psychiatry and Mental Health
Language:English
Date:June 2019
Deposited On:27 Aug 2019 11:32
Last Modified:29 Jul 2020 11:14
Publisher:Sage Publications
ISSN:1363-4615
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1177/1363461519832472
PubMed ID:30924415

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