Challenges and strategies in the psychiatric care of the ultra-Orthodox Jewish population: A thematic analysis of 18 psychiatrist interviews

Aaron M. Bloch, Ezra Gabbay, Linda M. Gerber, Anna Lopatin Dickerman, Samantha Knowlton, Joseph J. Fins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Despite the importance of accessible psychiatric care for the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, prior research has characterized how stigma and suspicion of secular institutions limit mental healthcare utilization by this population. No study, however, has interviewed a cohort of psychiatrists to identify commonly encountered challenges or successfully employed strategies in the care of ultra-Orthodox Jewish psychiatric patients who have overcome these barriers to present for care. We recruited by snowball sampling from a sample of convenience 18 psychiatrists affiliated with the Weill Cornell Department of Psychiatry, experienced in the care of ultra-Orthodox Jewish patients. Each participant was engaged in a 20–45-min, semi-structured interview, which was subsequently transcribed, de-identified, and analyzed with combined deductive and inductive thematic analysis. We identified 12 challenges and 11 strategies as particularly significant in psychiatric work with ultra-Orthodox Jewish patients at every phase of treatment, including rapport-building, history-taking, diagnostic formulation, and achieving concordance with patient and family. These challenges and strategies revolved around themes of community stigma, an extended family-patient-community team, cross-cultural communication, culture-related diagnostic complexity, transference/countertransference, and conflicts between Jewish law /community norms and treatment protocol. Psychiatrists caring for ultra-Orthodox Jewish patients face a range of complex challenges stemming from factors unique to ultra-Orthodox Jewish religion, culture, and family/community structure. However, they have also identified strategies to manage these challenges and provide culturally sensitive care. Further research is necessary to directly elicit perspectives from within the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community and validate our initial findings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalTranscultural Psychiatry
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2022

Keywords

  • cultural competence
  • Hasidic
  • Judaism
  • Orthodox
  • psychiatry
  • religion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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