BACKGROUND: This study examined knowledge and beliefs about depression among Malaysian Malays varying in socioeconomic status.
METHODS: A total of 153 urban and 189 rural participants completed a questionnaire in which they had to identify two cases of depression and rate a series of items about the causes and best treatments for depression.
RESULTS: Results showed that urban participants were more likely to use psychiatric labels ('depression') for the two vignettes, whereas rural participants tended to use more generic terms ('emotional stress').
CONCLUSION: Principal components analysis (PCA) showed that beliefs about the causes of depression factored into five components, of which stressful life events was most strongly endorsed by both groups. PCA of treatment items revealed four stable components, of which religious factors were most strongly endorsed. There were also a number of significant between-group differences in the endorsement of these factors (eta(p) (2) = .03-.11), with rural participants generally rating supernatural and religious factors more strongly than urban Malays. These results are discussed in relation to mental health literacy programmes in Malaysia.