Dubai, an Emirate in the Gulf region, has experienced spectacular social change as a result of the exploitation of its oil reserves. The Dubai Community Psychiatric Survey was designed to study the effects of this social change on the mental health of female nationals.
In this paper, we approach the problem by quantifying social change in two main ways: the first focused on social change at the individual level as measured by the Socio-cultural Change Questionnaire (Bebbington et al. 1993). The second examined the effect of social change at the community level by identifying areas of residence at different levels of development. We hypothesized that attitudes and behaviours markedly at odds with traditional prescriptions would be associated with high rates of psychiatric morbidity.
On the individual level, the association between psychiatric morbidity and the amount of social change reflected in the behaviours and views of the subjects was not significant. However, there was a significant association between morbidity and between social attitudes and behaviours. At the community level, in contrast, the relationship between psychiatric morbidity and social change was significant: there was more psychiatric morbidity in areas at the extremes of the social change continuum. The hypothesis put forward in this study must be modified accordingly.