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Culture and Co-Morbidity in East and West Berliners
Qualitative Health Research (2010)
  • Mary Fechner, University of Massachusetts - Amherst
Following the collapse of socialism, fluctuations in cardiac mortality rates in East Germany and a West-to-East cardiac health gradient became topics of interest. Researchers suggested possible causes for these phenomena, including stress from postsocialism. I proposed that a cultural investigation of heart disease comorbid with depression could inform our understanding of the potential health effects of the postsocialist transition. I conducted ethnographic and survey research. In the study described here, I administered a depression scale (CES-D) and an ethnographically derived measure of cultural stress (Good Life Survey) to over 200 East and West Berliners with cardiovascular disease. Comparison of the groups’ depression means revealed no difference. However, correlation of the Good Life Survey and the CES-D revealed unique profiles of cultural variables associated with depression in the two groups, suggesting that culture shapes depression and cardiac risk. I discuss the value of cultural studies to comorbidity research.
  • anthropology,
  • medical,
  • culture,
  • depression,
  • ethnography,
  • heart health,
  • mixed methods,
  • research,
  • cross-cultural
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Citation Information
Mary Fechner. "Culture and Co-Morbidity in East and West Berliners" Qualitative Health Research Vol. 20 Iss. 3 (2010)
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