Attitudes Towards People with a Mental Disorder: A Survey of the Australian Public and Health Professionals

NHMRC Psychiatric Epidemiology Research Centre, Australian National University, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory.
Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry (Impact Factor: 3.77). 03/1999; 33(1):77-83. DOI: 10.1046/j.1440-1614.1999.00513.x
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The aim of this paper was to compare the Australian public's attitudes towards people who have been treated for a mental disorder with the attitudes of general practitioners, psychiatrists and clinical psychologists.
The study involved a household survey of 2031 members of the Australian public and a postal survey of 872 general practitioners, 1128 psychiatrists and 454 clinical psychologists. Survey participants were presented with a vignette describing a person with schizophrenia or one with depression. They were asked opinions about the person's long-term outcome in various areas of life after receiving treatment. Participants were also asked whether they thought the person described would be discriminated against by others.
Both the public and professionals rated outcomes as poorer and discrimination as more likely for the person with schizophrenia than for the one with depression. The professionals made more negative ratings than the public, although the clinical psychologists had similar attitudes to the public about depression.
Compared to the public, health professionals rate long-term outcomes more negatively and discrimination as more likely. It is possible that these more negative attitudes are realistic, being based on greater knowledge of mental disorders. However, professional attitudes may be biased by greater contact with patients who have chronic or recurrent disorders. Either way, health professionals need to be aware of the effects that their negative attitudes might have on patients and the public.

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    • "Sartorius (2007) claimed stigma attached to mental illness is the main obstacle to care delivery. Scior's (2011) systematic review demonstrated that the low social status of people with intellectual disability represents widespread negative social attitudes commonly held by most population groups without intellectual disability as described by Jorm et al. (1999) and Porter (1998). "
    10/2014; 8(6):354-361. DOI:10.1108/AMHID-03-2014-0004
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    • "Similar attitudes have been identified across the western world in places such as Australia, Germany and the USA (e.g. Jorm et al., 1999; Angermeyer and Matschinger, 2003; Silton et al., 2011). A recent review has illustrated that public perceptions of mental health diagnoses vary across the diagnostic categories (Parle, 2012). "
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    ABSTRACT: Stigma is one of the greatest challenges facing people with a psychiatric diagnosis. They are widely stigmatised by the general public in the western world. The aim of this study was to examine public stigma attitudes towards schizophrenia, depression and anxiety. The Office of National Statistics (ONS) 2008 opinions survey (n=1070) was utilised. Percentage of endorsements for stigma items were initially compared to the previous 1998 and 2003 databases. Overall stigma attitudes had decreased (from 1998 to 2008) but increased since 2003. A principal components factor analysis identified that stigma attitudes have the same three factors structure across all diagnoses; negative stereotypes, patient blame and inability to recover. Schizophrenia was significantly associated with the most negative stereotypes, least blamed and viewed as least likely to recover compared to anxiety and depression. Public and individualised interventions that target diagnostic variability in stigma attitudes need to be developed and examined in future research.
    Psychiatry Research 07/2014; 220(1-2). DOI:10.1016/j.psychres.2014.07.012 · 2.68 Impact Factor
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    • "Previous studies outside of Africa suggest a high level of stigma and discrimination amongst general health care providers as well as mental health care providers [5,3]. Among health professionals, mental health professionals have been found to be less optimistic about prognosis and the long term outcomes for people with mental illness than other health professionals [2,26,27]. This therefore calls for interventions targeted at mental health professionals as well as other health care service providers whose services are vital to the recovery of people with mental illness. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background Stigma and discrimination against people with mental illness remain barriers to help seeking and full recovery for people in need of mental health services. Yet there is scarce research investigating the experiences of psychiatric stigma on mental health service users in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). The aim of this study was therefore to explore the experiences of psychiatric stigma by service users in order to inform interventions to reduce such stigma and discrimination in one LMIC, namely South Africa. Methods Participants comprised a total of 77 adults aged above 18 years, made up of service providers including professional nurses (10), lay counsellors (20), auxiliary social workers (2); and service users (45). Results Psychiatric stigma was found to be perpetuated by family members, friends, employers, community members and health care providers. Causes of psychiatric stigma identified included misconceptions about mental illness often leading to delays in help-seeking. Experiencing psychiatric stigma was reported to worsen the health of service users and impede their capacity to lead and recover a normal life. Conclusion Media campaigns and interventions to reduce stigma should be designed to address specific stigmatizing behaviours among specific segments of the population. Counselling of families, caregivers and service users should include how to deal with experienced and internalized stigma.
    BMC Psychiatry 07/2014; 14(191). DOI:10.1186/1471-244X-14-191 · 2.24 Impact Factor
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