Shifting blame away from Ill relatives: Latino families' reactions to schizophrenia

Amy G. Weisman, Luisa G. Gomes, Steven R. López

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


The present study examined attributions, emotions, and help-giving of 24 relatively unacculturated Latino-Americans toward a family member with schizophrenia. Ninety-one percent of participants had been rated as low in expressed emotion (low-EE) in an earlier study using a sample that overlaps with the present study. Low-EE refers to relatives who express few critical attitudes when talking about a mentally ill family member. Study findings indicate a link between relatives' emotions and their reported help-giving behavior. In support of attribution-affect theory, relatives who reported feeling more compassion toward an ill family member also reported exerting more effort to help their relative cope with the illness. A qualitative analysis of relatives' views, values, and behaviors was also conducted with the aim of better understanding low-EE relatives' perceptions, which may serve to buffer schizophrenia relapse. We observed the following three main categories of attributions: (1) most participants accepted the patient as having a legitimate illness, (2) the majority of participants viewed interpersonal problems or other external environmental stressors as causing or exacerbating the disorder, and (3) many participants implicated God in their causal attributions and also reported turning to religion as a source of hope and comfort in coming to terms with the patient's illness. Together, the quantitative and qualitative data suggest that efforts to augment positive or favorable emotions in key family members may be most important in establishing a low-EE family environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)574-581
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Nervous and Mental Disease
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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