Quality of life of depressed and suicidal patients seeking services from traditional and faith healers in rural Kenya

Christine W. Musyimi, Victoria N. Mutiso, Sameera S. Nayak, David M. Ndetei, David C. Henderson, J.G.F. Bunders- Aelen

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: In rural Kenya, traditional and faith healers provide an alternative pathway to health care, including mental health care. However, not much is known about the characteristics of the populations they serve. The purpose of this study was to determine the relationship between depression, suicidal ideation, and socio-demographic variables with Quality of Life (QoL) indicators in a sample seeking mental health services from traditional and faith healers in rural Kenya. Understanding QoL in this sample can help develop mental health policy and training to improve the well-being of this population. Method: This was a cross-sectional epidemiological survey (n = 443) conducted over a period of 3 months among adult patients seeking care from traditional and faith healers in rural Kenya. Data were collected using the Beck Depression Inventory II (BDI-II), Beck Scale for Suicide Ideation (BSS) and WHO Quality of Life Survey- BREF (WHOQOL-BREF), and analyzed using correlation analyses, parametric tests, and regression analyses. Results: Increasing levels of depression were associated with lower QoL among patients seeking care from traditional and faith healers. BSS scores were significantly negatively correlated with overall, physical, psychological, and environmental QoL, p < .05. There was a statistically significant difference between mean scores for overall QoL between depressed (M = 2.35, SD = 0.76) and non-depressed participants (M = 3.03, SD = 0.67), t(441) = 8.899, p < .001. Overall life satisfaction for depressed participants (M = 2.23, SD = 0.69) was significantly lower than non-depressed participants. Regression analyses indicated that depression, suicidal ideation, and being married predicted lower overall QoL controlling for other variables. Post hoc tests and subgroup analysis by gender revealed significant differences for females only. Depression, and older age predicted lower life satisfaction whereas being self-employed predicted higher life satisfaction, when controlling for other variables. Conclusion: This study sheds light on correlates of QoL in depressed and non-depressed patients in rural Kenya. Evidence suggests that traditional and faith healers treat patients with a variety of QoL issues. Further research should focus on understanding how these issues tie into QoL, and how these healers can target these to improve care.

Original languageEnglish
Article number95
JournalHealth and Quality of Life Outcomes
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 8 May 2017


  • Depression
  • Faith healer
  • Kenya
  • Quality of life
  • Suicide
  • Traditional healer


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