Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine
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ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2020  |  Volume : 42  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 69-79

Stress and its social determinants – a qualitative study reflecting the perceptions of a select small group of the public in Sri Lanka


1 Senior Registrar in Community Medicine, Post Graduate Institute of Medicine, University of Colombo, Colombo, Sri Lanka
2 Medical Officer, Ministry of Health, Sri Lanka and PhD Candidate, Centre for Online Health, School of Medicine, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia
3 Programme Director (e-Healthcare), Centre for Online Health, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia
4 Senior Lecturer, Department of Community Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo, Colombo, Sri Lanka

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Buddhika Senanayake
160, Prof. Nandadasa Kodagoda Road, Colombo
Sri Lanka
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/IJPSYM.IJPSYM_482_18

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Background: Exposure to stress, especially for prolonged periods, can result in physical and mental disorders. To attribute causality to its associated disease profile, social determinants need to be identified at the population level. The objective of this study was to explore perceptions regarding stress and its probable social determinants, among a purposeful cohort of the public from Colombo district, Sri Lanka. Methods: A qualitative study using focus group discussions (FGDs) was conducted among adults. Purposive sampling was used to recruit 8--10 participants into homogenous groups. Data were collected until information saturation. A semistructured FGD guide was used to facilitate the discussions. Content analysis methods were used to analyze data. Results: Six FGDs consisting of 59 participants were conducted. Participants included primary healthcare workers, community members, village leaders, private and public sector employees, unemployed individuals, homemakers, self-employed persons, slum dwellers, and persons from affluent communities. Three main themes emerged: social, economic, and cultural factors. Social factors consisted of four sub-themes: social role or status, generation gap, disability, and unsafe environment. Economic factors included three related subthemes: poverty, unemployment, and job insecurity. Cultural factors included three subthemes: superstitious beliefs, religion and caste, marriage and dowry. Conclusion: Elements regarding stress and its social determinants among the public in Sri Lanka seem to be an amalgam of interconnected sociocultural and economic factors. However, addressing these social determinants in isolation (at an individual level) may not be feasible, as most causes appear to be outside the scope of the individual.


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