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The Explanatory Model Interview Catalogue (EMIC)

Contribution to Cross-cultural Research Methods from a Study of Leprosy and Mental Health

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 January 2018

Mitchell G. Weiss*
Departments of Psychiatry and Social Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts and Department of Psychiatry, The Cambridge Hospital, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
D. R. Doongaji
Department of Psychiatry, KEM Hospital, Bombay, India
S. Siddhartha
Department of Psychiatry, KEM Hospital, Bombay
David Wypij
Department of Biostatistics, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts
S. Pathare
Department of Psychiatry, KEM Hospital, Bombay
M. Bhatawdekar
A. Bhave
Department of Psychiatry, Nair Hospital, Bombay
A. Sheth
Department of Psychiatry, KEM Hospital, Bombay
R. Fernandes
Department of Dermatology, KEM Hospital, Bombay
Department of Social Medicine, Harvard Medical School, 641 Huntington Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA


The Explanatory Model Interview Catalogue (EMIC) has been developed to elicit illness-related perceptions, beliefs, and practices in a cultural study of leprosy and mental health in Bombay. Leprosy is an especially appropriate disorder for studying the inter-relationship of culture, mental health and medical illness because of deeply rooted cultural meanings, the emotional burden, and underuse of effective therapy. Fifty per cent of 56 recently diagnosed leprosy out-patients, 37% of 19 controls with another stigmatised dermatological condition (vitiligo), but only 8% of 12 controls with a comparable non-stigmatised condition (tinea versicolor) met DSM–III–R criteria for an axis I depressive, anxiety or somatoform disorder. Belief in a humoral (traditional) cause of illness predicted better attendance at clinic.

Copyright © The Royal College of Psychiatrists 

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