Explanatory model interview catalogue (EMIC): Framework for comparative study of illness.
The Explanatory Model Interview Catalogue (EMIC) refers to a collection of locally adapted explanatory model interviews rooted in a common framework. Efforts to develop the EMIC were motivated by research experience in cultural psychiatry and tropical medicine that demonstrated a need to integrate epidemiological and anthropological research methods more effectively. Various adaptations of the EMIC framework have produced semi-structured interviews based on an operational formulation of an illness explanatory model that systematically clarifies the experience of illness from the point of view of the people who are directly affected. Patterns of distress, perceived causes, preferences for help seeking and treatment, and general illness beliefs constitute a framework for the operational formulation of the illness explanatory model. Data sets generated from these EMIC interviews typically include quantitative variables and qualitative prose, which are cross-referenced for analysis to clarify key features and answer important questions about illness experience and its practical implications. This review discusses the development and structure of the EMIC, the adaptation of particular explanatory model interviews, the analysis of data obtained from these interviews, the scope of research they have addressed, and next steps in the development of the EMIC.