Refining Black men’s depression measurement using participatory approaches: a concept mapping study


Abstract Background Despite cumulative socioeconomic disadvantage and risk factors, Black Americans have a lower prevalence of depression than whites. Given the emerging focus of depression as a public mental health crisis, culturally informed depression measures and scale development techniques are needed to better alleviate the mental health burden of socially marginalized populations. Yet, for Black men, race- and gender-related factors that position emotional vulnerability as a sign of weakness, may potentially mask the timely identification of mental health needs in this population. Thus, we address these gaps by employing a stakeholder-driven, community-engaged process for understanding Black men’s depression experience. Methods We use concept mapping, a structured mixed methods approach, to determine how stakeholders of Black men’s health conceptualize their depressive symptoms. Thirty-six stakeholders participated in a three-phase concept mapping study conducted in 2018. Three separate stakeholder groups were engaged for this study, including Black men, Black women, and primary care providers. Results Participants generated 68 characteristics of Black men’s depression which were reflected within five conceptual clusters: (1) physical states; (2) emotional states; (3) diminished drive; (4) internal conflicts; (5) communication with others; and (6) social pressures. Using a content analysis approach, we found that items comprising the “social pressures” cluster were not reflected in any common depression scales. Conclusions Findings from this study illustrate the similar and divergent pathways in which Black men express depressed mood. Furthermore, concept mapping results also yield a novel opportunity for culturally informed scale development in future research.

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