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A comparison of general and illness-related locus of control in Russians, ethnic German migrants and Germans

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General and illness-related locus of control play an immensely important role in the adherence and cooperation of patients in their therapy. Until now, culture-specific aspects of these subjective theories have rarely been investigated. However, in view of the growing proportion of migrants in the German population, they are becoming increasingly significant. In a project supported by the Volkswagenstiftung (Volkswagen Foundation), a total of 607 healthy people were surveyed. The sample includes 307 ethnic German migrants from the successor states of the former Soviet Union (descendents of German origin who had emigrated to Russia during the 18th and 19th centuries) and 300 native Russians in Russia. They were compared with 100 Germans (matched from a previous study). The data were collected using questionnaires entitled "Multidimensional Health Locus of Control (MHLC)" and "Illness-related Locus of Control". The ethnic German migrants differed from the Russian sample in their health beliefs and attitudes towards medicine. However, in the first 18 months after migration, hardly any changes were observed. Fatalistic factors played only a minor role. Locus of health control was associated with beliefs about recovery from myocardial infarcts and tumours. Socio-demographic variables were of varying significance in the individual cultures. Gender influences on health beliefs were different in the subsamples. The level of education had only a minor influence on health attitudes. For those individuals who were acquainted with an ill person, internal factors in treatment of myocardial infarct and external psychosocial factors in cure of cancer played a larger role.
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Keywords: Causal attribution; Germany; health; illness; locus of control; migration; therapy

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Institute for the Study of Occupational and Mental Health, Düsseldorf, Germany 2: Westfalia Clinic for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Marl-Sinsen, Germany 3: Department of Medical Psychology and Medical Sociology, University Clinic of Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany

Publication date: May 1, 2007

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