Researchers from the University of Manchester
have developed a social intervention to help British Pakistani
women with depression.
Their 10-week programme, which was trialled in
the north-west of England, helped the women feel more positive and
improved their satisfaction and social functioning. The
findings are published in the September issue of the
British Journal of Psychiatry.
Previous studies have shown that South Asian
women living in the UK – particularly those of Pakistani origin –
have a higher rate of depression, suicide and self-harm than White
women. However, there are no psychosocial interventions
specifically designed to help people from ethnic minorities with
Dr Nusrat Husain and the team, recruited 123
British Pakistani women to take part in the Medical Research
Council-funded study and divided them into three groups. One group
took part in the social intervention, one group was given
antidepressants, and the third group received both the intervention
and antidepressant treatment.
The social intervention involved women attending groups at a local
community centre for weekly sessions over 10 weeks. At the first
session, the women chose from a list of indoor and outdoor
activities they could take part in. They also participated in an
educational session, which gave information about depression
including its nature, symptoms, causes and treatment. To ensure
cultural sensitivity, the women were taken to the sessions by taxi
accompanied by a female transport facilitator, and the sessions
took place in a culturally acceptable venue with childcare
provided. Food was offered at the end of each session.
Women who took part in the social intervention
said they felt “very much at home” because the sessions were
culturally appropriate, with multilingual group facilitators and
information materials available in their own language. The women
described their experience as “relief from worries” and “feeling
fresh”. They enjoyed meeting people, and were able to confide in
others – something they were struggling to do at home.
After follow-up at 3 and 9 months, the
researchers found a greater improvement in the depression scores
for the social intervention group than the antidepressant group.
There were also improvements in social functioning and satisfaction
for those receiving the social intervention compared to those
receiving antidepressants alone. However, these improvements were
not found to be statistically significant.
Dr Husain said: “Since depression is very
prevalent among British Pakistani women, and treatment is currently
very poor, this represents an important development. Our failure to
achieve statistically significant results comes in part from our
small sample size. However, it’s clear that the women found the
social intervention acceptable, with improvement in their social
functioning and depression. We now need more research to
investigate if these encouraging outcomes can be improved.”
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Gater R, Waheed W, Husain N, Tomenson B, Aseem S and Creed F (2010) Social intervention for British Pakistani women with depression: randomised controlled trial, British Journal of Psychiatry, 197: 228-233