Enablers to seeking professional help for psychological distress-a study on Chinese primary care attenders
Sun, K.S.; Lam, T.P.; Lam, K.F.; Lo, T.L.; Chao, D.V.K.; Lam, E.W.W.
Psychiatry Research 264: 9-14
ISSN/ISBN: 1872-7123 PMID: 29626833 DOI: 10.1016/j.psychres.2018.03.056
This study investigated enablers to seeking professional help for psychological distress among Chinese primary care attenders in Hong Kong. Nine focus groups and six individual interviews were conducted among adult patients with/without known distress, significant others of the distressed, and the general public. The identified potential enablers were further investigated in a questionnaire survey with data from 1626 patients. Survey respondents who had sought professional help for distress (n = 231) and those without this experience (n = 1395) showed similar attitudes to the enabler items. However, the first group had more "strongly agree" responses and their top five enablers were: crisis caused by distress, distress affecting daily life, wanting to treat associated physical symptoms, having trust in doctor, and encouragement by family/friends to seek help. Qualitative interviews found that the patients often somatised distress and they felt comfortable to consult for somatic symptoms. There was strong family involvement in help-seeking whereas the doctors were the authoritative figures to convince the patients for treatment. The findings, in line with Western literature, indicate that crisis and interference in daily life due to distress are the top enablers to seeking professional help. The other three key enablers are likely to be influenced by Chinese culture.