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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.
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