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Health Forum Online    The Psychologist's Source for C.E. Credits Online

Attributions of Illness Causation: Cultural Perspectives and Health Care Implications

by Kimberley A. Cox, PhD 2 CE Credits

Healthcare behavior is strongly affected by attributions or beliefs about illness and its treatment. Culture plays an integral role in the formation of such beliefs. In a multicultural society it is essential for health professionals to understand beliefs concerning health and illness prevalent in different ethnic groups. Provider knowledge of and sensitivity to patients' culture-specific health-related beliefs are necessary for promoting disease prevention, enhancing adjustment to illness, and improving adherence to treatment. This course provides an overview of psychological theory and empirical evidence on cultural differences in beliefs about the causation of illness. In addition, the influence of these belief structures on several dimensions of illness and health, including health-seeking behavior, choice of treatment, and treatment adherence is discussed.


This online course is approved for APA CE credit, NBCC CE clock hours and ASWB CE clock hours (Cultural Competency/Diversity). NYSED CEs are NOT approved for this online course.


Course Sections/Outline:

  • Introduction
  • Theories of Belief Systems
  • Traditional Models of Health Behavior
  • Explanatory Models
  • Culture, Health and Illness Beliefs, and Behaviors: An Empirical Review
  • Implications for Health Care Practice
  • Conclusion
  • Web-based Resources
  • References

Learning Objectives:

After completing this course, health professionals will be able to:
  • Discuss the underlying psychological theory pertaining to attributions of illness causation, with an emphasis on the diverse health beliefs held among ethnic groups.
  • Summarize the empirical evidence pertaining to the association between attributions and health behaviors.
  • Utilize at least 2 strategies to facilitate the design and implementation of culturally sensitive health-related communications and therapeutic interventions.