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The Psychiatric Cultural Formulation: Translating Medical Anthropology into Clinical Practice


Journal of Psychiatric Practice®: March 2012 - Volume 18 - Issue 2 - p 73–85
doi: 10.1097/01.pra.0000413273.01682.05

This article reviews proposed revisions to the DSM-IV Outline for Cultural Formulation for clinical practice. The author begins by exploring the theoretical development of and assumptions involved in the Cultural Formulation. A case presentation is then used to demonstrate shortcomings in the current implementation of the Cultural Formulation based on older definitions of culture. Finally, the author recommends practical questions based on the growing anthropological literature concerning the interpersonal elements of culture and the social course of illness. A simple clear format that clinically translates social science concepts has the potential to increase use of the Cultural Formulation by all psychiatrists, not just those specializing in cultural psychiatry. (Journal of Psychiatric Practice 2012;18:73–85)

AGGARWAL: New York State Psychiatric Institute and Columbia University Department of Psychiatry

The authors thank Dr Laura Fochtmann for helpful suggestions and for reviewing the manuscript.

Neil Krishan Aggarwal is the recipient of the Minority Fellows Program grant administered through the American Psychi atric Association and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. He is also an unpaid consultant to the DSM-5 Gender and Cross-Cultural Issues Study Group. The author declares no conflicts of interest

Please send correspondence to: Neil Krishan Aggarwal, MD, MA, 1051 Riverside Drive, Rm. 1703, New York, NY 10025.

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.