Faith-Based Views of Barriers to Recognition and Treatment of Depression

Friday, 3 August 2012: 8:30 AM

Keneshia J. Bryant, PhD, RN, FNP-BC
College of Nursing, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, AR

Learning Objective 1: Describe a minimum of two reasons why engaging the faith community is needed to improve depression care among African Americans.

Learning Objective 2: List and understand three barriers to recognition and treatment of depression among rural African Americans.

Purpose: Studies have shown that spirituality and religion are important to the treatment of depression among African Americans. Spirituality has also been shown to impact the beliefs of the causes of depression and coping mechanisms. The aim of the study was to describe how predominantly African American rural churches distinguish effective means to recognize and cope with depressive symptoms. 

Methods: The study followed the principles of Community Based Participatory Research. The participants were recruited by a community leader in a rural US community. The participants included a group of pastors, a group of persons interested in health and a group of men who have experienced symptoms of depression. The primary data source was focus groups. This method provided the researchers an “insider” point of view. Qualitative analyses were completed by three experienced researchers.

Results: A total of five focus groups were completed over a three month period. In addition, two individual interviews were conducted. A convenience sample of 24 persons participated in focus groups and interviews, including nine pastors. Three themes emerged from the data related to barriers. The first barrier was related to the lack of knowledge about depression in the community. The second, stigma was related to persons not understanding depression, therefore labeling those with it as “crazy” or being inhabited by a spirit. The final barrier was trust and confidentiality, being in a small community; participants felt that if they shared their personal information about what they were going through that it would not be held in confidence.

Conclusion: Persons in rural and remote areas with depression have less adequate access to care, and limited availability of skilled care providers. Persons in rural communities also deal with greater societal stigma for seeking mental health services. Therefore, programs are needed to educate the community about depression and to provide innovative treatment options.