Does labeling matter? An examination of attitudes and perceptions of labels for mental disorders.

Department of Psychology, University of Calgary, 2500 University Dr. NW, Calgary, AB, T2N 1N4, Canada, .
Social Psychiatry (Impact Factor: 2.58). 06/2012; 48(4). DOI: 10.1007/s00127-012-0532-7
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT PURPOSE: Labeling research in various domains has found that attitudes and perceptions vary as a function of the different labels ascribed to a group (e.g., overweight vs. obese). This type of research, however, has not been examined extensively in regards to labels for mental disorders. The present study examined whether common psychiatric labels (i.e., mental disease, mental disorders, mental health problems, and mental illness) elicited divergent attitudes and perceptions in a group of participants. These labels were also compared to the specific label of depression. METHODS: Undergraduate psychology students (N = 124) were given identical questionnaire packages with the exception of the label used. That is, each participant received a set of questionnaires that referred to only one of the five labels. The questionnaire package contained various quantitative measures of attitudes and social distance, in addition to a short qualitative measure. RESULTS: Analyses demonstrated equivalence among the four general psychiatric labels on measures of attitudes, social distance, and general perceptions. However, results also suggested that the general labels diverged from the depression label, with the latter being generally more negatively perceived. Some analyses demonstrated that participants' understanding of the terminology might be incorrect. The results of the investigation are discussed with a focus on its relationship with current research in stigma. CONCLUSION: Within the current sample, general psychiatric labels did not appear to distinguish themselves from each other on measures of attitude and social distance but did so when compared to a relatively more specific term. Future research should examine the underlying mechanism driving this finding, with the ultimate goal of reducing the stigma faced by those with mental disorders.

  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: There is limited research examining mental health-related stigma of undergraduates in non-western developing countries. This study examined stigma of undergraduates in Sri Lanka towards another depressed undergraduate. A hypothetical vignette of an undergraduate suffering from depression was presented. A total of 4650 undergraduates responded to scales assessing their personal stigma towards and desire for social distance from this individual. Exploratory structural equation modelling (ESEM) was performed to determine the dimensionality and loading pattern of the items on these two stigma scales. Multiple linear regressions were used to explore correlates of the identified dimensions of stigma. Previous findings that the Social Distance Scale forms a single dimension and that the Personal Stigma Scale consists of two dimensions were supported. However, the measurement structure of the dimensions of stigma on the latter scales, labelled 'Weak-not-Sick' and 'Dangerous-Undesirable' , differed from previous work. A high level of stigma in relation to the 'Weak-not-Sick' Scale was observed. However, some correlates associated with lower levels of stigma on this scale, such as being in the Medical Faculty, were associated with higher levels of stigma on the 'Dangerous-Undesirable' and 'Social Distance' scales. In contrast, labelling the problem as a mental health-related problem, with absence of specific psychiatric terminology, was associated with lower levels of stigma on these latter two scales. Exposure to a mental health problem in family or friends or from personal experience was also associated with lower stigma on the Social Distance Scale. However, the effect sizes of these relationships were small. The findings highlight differences in the measurement structure and score distribution of the 'Weak-not-Sick' and 'Dangerous-Undesirable' scales when used in different cultural and demographic contexts. The dimensionality of stigma relevant to these scales must always be established prior to their use in different contexts. Furthermore, campaigns targeted at improving knowledge about depression as a real illness and as a psychiatric condition need to ensure that such attempts are not associated with increases in other aspects of stigma.
    BMC Psychiatry 01/2015; 15:129. DOI:10.1186/s12888-015-0523-9 · 2.24 Impact Factor
  • Source
    12/2015; 2(1). DOI:10.1186/s40479-015-0030-0
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The economic repercussions of mental disorders in the workplace are vast. Research has found that individuals in high-stress jobs tend to have higher prevalence of mental disorders. The current cross-sectional study examined the relationships between work-related stress and mental disorders in a recent representative population-based sample-the 2010 Canadian Community Health Survey by Statistics Canada (CCHS; 2010a; Retrieved from Respondents in the highest level of perceived work stress had higher odds of ever being treated for an emotional or mental-health problem and for being treated in the past 12 months. These high-stress respondents also had higher odds of being diagnosed for mood and anxiety disorders than their nonstressed counterparts. These associations highlight the continued need to examine and promote mental health and well-being in the workplace. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2013 APA, all rights reserved).
    Journal of Occupational Health Psychology 03/2013; 18(2). DOI:10.1037/a0031806 · 2.07 Impact Factor