Developing mental health care capacity in postearthquake Haiti is hampered by the lack of assessments that include culturally bound idioms Haitians use when discussing emotional distress. The current paper describes a novel emic-etic approach to developing a depression screening for Partners in Health/Zanmi Lasante. In Study 1 Haitian key informants were asked to classify symptoms and describe categories within a pool of symptoms of common mental disorders. Study 2 tested the symptom set that best approximated depression in a sample of depressed and not depressed Haitians in order to select items for the screening tool. The resulting 13-item instrument produced scores with high internal reliability that were sensitive to culturally informed diagnoses, and interpretations with construct and concurrent validity (vis-à-vis functional impairment). Discussion focuses on the appropriate use of this tool and integrating emic perspectives into developing psychological assessments globally. The screening tool is provided as an Appendix.
Keywords: Haiti; community health workers; depression; global mental health; measure development; screening.
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