From Formative Research to Cultural Adaptation of a Face-to-Face and Internet-Based Cognitive-Behavioural Intervention for Arabic-Speaking Refugees in Germany


  • Maria Böttche
  • Christina Kampisiou
  • Nadine Stammel
  • Rayan El-Haj-Mohamad
  • Carina Heeke
  • Sebastian Burchert
  • Eva Heim Orcid
  • Birgit Wagner
  • Babette Renneberg
  • Johanna Böttcher
  • Heide Glaesmer
  • Euphrosyne Gouzoulis-Mayfrank
  • Jürgen Zielasek
  • Alexander Konnopka
  • Laura Murray
  • Christine Knaevelsrud


Background: This study aims to provide a transparent and replicable documentation approach for the cultural adaptation of a cognitive-behavioural transdiagnostic intervention (Common Elements Treatment Approach, CETA) for Arabic-speaking refugees with common mental disorders in Germany.
Method: A mixed-methods approach was used, including literature review, interviews, expert decisions and questionnaires, in order to adapt the original CETA as well as an internet-based guided version (eCETA). The process of cultural adaptation was based on a conceptual framework and was facilitated by an adaptation monitoring form as well as guidelines which facilitate the reporting of cultural adaptation in psychological trials (RECAPT).
Results: Consistent with this form and the guidelines, the decision-making process of adaptation proved to be coherent and stringent. All specific CETA treatment components seem to be suitable for the treatment of Arabic-speaking refugees in Germany. Adaptations were made to three different elements: 1) Cultural concepts of distress: a culturally appropriate explanatory model of symptoms was added; socially accepted terms for expressing symptoms (for eCETA only) and assessing suicidal ideation were adapted; 2) Treatment components: no adaptations for theoretically/empirically based components of the intervention, two adaptations for elements used by the therapist to engage the patient or implement the intervention (nonspecific elements), seven adaptations for skills implemented during sessions (therapeutic techniques; two for eCETA only) and 3) Treatment delivery: 21 surface adaptations (10 for eCETA only), two eCETA-only adaptations regarding the format.
Conclusion: The conceptual framework and the RECAPT guidelines simplify, standardise and clarify the cultural adaptation process.