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Tijdschrift voor Psychiatrie 60 (2018) 11, 756 - 765


Brua and psychiatry: A pilot study among Dutch-Antillean patients in the Netherlands

S.N. Rhuggenaath, J.D. Blom

background Individuals native to Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao, the abc islands of the former Netherlands Antilles, often attribute their complaints to brua, although they seldom discuss this with health professionals. This may have a negative influence on the therapeutic relationship and diagnostic processes.
aim To explore the role of brua in the illness perception of psychiatric patients in the Netherlands who were originally from the abc islands.
method A random sample of patients under treatment at Parnassia Psychiatric Institute in The Hague were interviewed with the aid of a semi-structured questionnaire.
results Of the 18 psychiatric patients interviewed, 10 (56%) believed in brua, and 3 (17%) considered it the cause of their disease. Although none of the interviewees admitted to an active involvement in brua, 8 (44%) had been in touch with a traditional healer and 9 (50%) possessed artifacts meant to provide protection against evil. Regarding the usefulness of discussing brua with health professionals, opinions were divided.
conclusion Psychiatric patients in the Netherlands native to the abc islands are all knowledgeable of brua, with more than half of them believing in it. Despite the fear and shame that people often experience, making brua fit for discussion in clinical practice would improve the relationship between health professional and patient, yielding further opportunities for diagnosis and treatment.

keywords Afrocaribean religion, illness attribution, magic, schizophrenia spectrum disorder, transcultural psychiatry