How Health Professionals Approach Treatment of Depression: The Influence of Causal Beliefs and Essentialism

Geary, Chelsea (2014). How Health Professionals Approach Treatment of Depression: The Influence of Causal Beliefs and Essentialism Honours Thesis, School of Psychology, The University of Queensland.

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Author Geary, Chelsea
Thesis Title How Health Professionals Approach Treatment of Depression: The Influence of Causal Beliefs and Essentialism
School, Centre or Institute School of Psychology
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2014-10-08
Thesis type Honours Thesis
Supervisor Tegan Cruwys
Total pages 100
Language eng
Subjects 1701 Psychology
Abstract/Summary Health professionals who treat clients with depression have vastly different treatment practices. Causal beliefs may have an influence on the way individual health professionals approach recommendations for treatment, perceive prognosis of clients, and influence their individual attitudes towards clients with depression. An experimental investigation was undertaken with 104 health professionals who treat people with depression including doctors, nurses, psychologists, social workers and occupational therapists. Participants read one of three manipulations in the form of a scientific abstract; which framed the cause of depression as being from a biological, psychological, or social cause. Participants then read a case study of a client with depression and were asked to recommend treatment and state their prognosis for the client. Essentialist beliefs and the stigmatizing attitudes of the health professionals towards people with depression were also measured. Drawing on previous research into causal beliefs and theories of essentialism, it was predicated that health professionals who read a biological causal belief of depression would regard more extreme treatment options as more helpful compared to those who read a psychological or social causal belief. It was also predicted that those in the biological condition would hold more stigmatizing beliefs about depression and hold a poorer prognosis for clients than those in the psychological or social conditions. Results revealed that the experimental manipulation of causal beliefs was unsuccessful; and as a result there was limited support for the hypotheses. It was found however that participants in the biological condition regarded social treatments as significantly less helpful than participants in the other two conditions. Post-hoc analyses revealed relationships between profession type, essentialism, and stigma; such that doctors held the most stigmatizing beliefs and social workers the least. A mediation model showed that essentialism partially explained this relationship. Implications of the current research are discussed in regards to theory and practice, as well as directions for future research.
Keyword Health professionals
casual beliefs

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Created: Wed, 29 Apr 2015, 10:38:17 EST by Anita Whybrow on behalf of School of Psychology