Conceptualisation of abnormal behaviour among residents of Kibera informal settlement in Nairobi County, Kenya: implications for mental health intervention
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expected to be afflicted by one form of a mental or neurological disorder at some point in their lives. Although great advancements have been made in its understanding and treatment, abnormal behaviour is still misconceptualised by many individuals, sub-cultures and cultures world-wide. The purpose of this study was to investigate how abnormal behaviour is conceptualised by residents of Kibera informal settlement in Nairobi County, Kenya; and how this conceptualisation influences the mental health interventions sought by the residents. The Biopsychosocial (BPS) model of abnormal behaviour and the Fourth Edition (revised text) of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR) informed the formulation of research objectives and instruments. A cross-sectional survey design employing a mixed concurrent triangulation method of data collection was adopted for the study. Quantitative data was gathered via a researcher-generated questionnaire while qualitative data was generated via a focus group discussion (FGD) guide. Purposive, stratified, simple random and snowball sampling techniques were used to select 433 study participants. The Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) aided in the analysis of quantitative data from the questionnaire; which were subjected to descriptive analysis using percentages, frequencies and mean scores; and inferential statistical analysis using Independent T-tests, one way Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) test and subsequent Post-Hoc test; and Pearson Correlation Coefficient (r) test. Textual thematic analysis was done for qualitative data from FGDs. The study established a substantial misconception of the nature of abnormal behaviour (Mean=29.36); an average support for scientific psychosocial causes (Mean=54.39) and a causal misconception (Mean=74.07). Gender variable significantly influenced how the nature of child developmental disorders was conceptualised (t=2.639,df=382,p=0.009). Gender, age, and level of education variables significantly influenced how scientific causes of abnormal behaviour were conceptualised (t=-3.983,df=383,p<0.001), (F(3,381)=5.547,p=0.001), F(3,381)=4.240,p=0.006); while age variable significantly influenced how non-scientific causes of abnormal behaviour were conceptualised (F(3,381)=3.551,p=0.015). A treatment intervention misconception (Mean=59.78) was also established. A correlation was found between support for scientific/non-scientific causes and use of scientific/non-scientific treatment interventions (r=0.258;p<0.001;r=0.178,p<0.001); and between support for scientific/non scientific causes and use of non-scientific/scientific treatment interventions (r=0.199,p<0.001; r=0.125,p=0.014). The two most highly supported measures to mitigate abnormal behaviour were ‗building of mental hospital‘ and ‗educating residents on issues of mental health.‘ The study concluded that there is a misconception of abnormal behaviour among residents of Kibera informal settlement especially in relation to its psychosocial causes which is likely to lead to delayed or improper interventions. Moreover, there is a possibility that residents of Kibera do not use an integrated approach in treatment of abnormal behaviour due to this misconception. The study recommends structured educational programmes on mental health for residents of Kibera informal settlement aimed at correcting the established misconception.