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Salud mental

versão impressa ISSN 0185-3325


NATERA REY, Guillermina  e  TIBURCIO SAINZ, Marcela. Tailoring an intervention model to help indigenous families cope with excessive drinking in central Mexico. Salud Ment [online]. 2007, vol.30, n.6, pp.32-42. ISSN 0185-3325.

Alcohol has been acknowledged as one of the psychotropic drugs consumed in nearly all cultures. The study of alcohol use among indigenous and rural communities from an anthropological perspective highlights the function of alcohol in the social cohesion, and tends to minimize the consequences of consumption.

This research adopts a complementary paradigm more closely linked to the acknowledgement of the significant increase in alcohol availability, coupled with its excessive promotion and the lack of support services for other related social, economic and even religious problems.

Two groups are affected by excessive drinking: consumers and their closest social nucleus, i.e. the family, both of which require assistance. The aim of this article is to describe the process followed to adapt to the indigenous context a brief intervention model to support the drinkers' families, which is based upon the stress-strain-coping-support model and has proved useful in helping to deal with the dilemmas faced by relatives concerned with a family member's excessive drinking.

The adaptation process included four research phases involving different qualitative methods: 1. feasibility, which includes the initial ethnographic research, 2. the adaptation of instruments and psycho-educational materials, 3. the development of an intervention manual and finally, 4. the development of cost-benefit evaluation indicators.

The data are drawn from two small indigenous communities located in the arid zone of Valle del Mezquital, in the state of Hidalgo, 300 km from Mexico City. Various strategies drawn from qualitative methods were used in the different phases, i.e. individual interviews with key informants and community members, focus groups, field notes, cognitive laboratories, and the application of semi-structured and structured questionnaires.

Different factors were identified as potential challenges for intervention: The existence of a patriarchal organization, fear of gossip, the different perceptions of alcohol consumption, linguistic connotations, poverty, time constraints, and the right not to inform the participants exert.

It is crucial to increase awareness in order to improve well-being through various means. Women must be offered alternative responses to a dominant patriarchal structure, by helping them overcome the fear of discussing their problems, taking care not to offend their traditions and encouraging mechanisms that will weaken the power of gossip. Likewise, men must be convinced of the harmfulness of alcohol consumption and its effects on the family.

Palavras-chave : Intervention; indigenous population; alcohol abuse; family; Mexico.

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