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: 2.54). 06/2012; 48(4). DOI: 10.1007/s00127-012-0532-7
Source: PubMed


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.

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.

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.

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.

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    • "Additionally, although anti-stigma interventions often favor a more generalist approach—by targeting mental illness as a whole as opposed to specific disorders—it is important to note that different forms of mental illness also invoke different explanatory schemas (Haslam and Giosan 2002; Szeto et al. 2013). There is also emerging evidence to suggest that healthcare providers hold different explanatory schemas for different forms of mental illness (Gask 2013). "
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    ABSTRACT: Reducing the stigma and discrimination associated with mental illness is becoming an increasingly important focus for research, policy, programming and intervention work. While it has been well established that the healthcare system is one of the key environments in which persons with mental illnesses experience stigma and discrimination there is little published literature on how to build and deliver successful anti-stigma programs in healthcare settings, towards healthcare providers in general, or towards specific types of practitioners. Our paper intends to address this gap by providing a set of theoretical considerations for guiding the design and implementation of anti-stigma interventions in healthcare.
    Community Mental Health Journal 07/2015; DOI:10.1007/s10597-015-9910-4 · 1.03 Impact Factor
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    • "This definition speaks to the complexity of the stigma construct. Similarly, the research literature has identified various aspects related to and sub-components of the stigma construct, including perceived stigma [2-5], self-stigma [6], social distance [3,7], danger/violence [8], helping [8], negativism, as opposed to a belief in recovery [9], and emotional reactions [10] including social responsibility and lack of empathy or comparison towards people with mental illness. Corrigan and colleagues suggest that “stigma related to mental illness represents a significant public health concern because it is a major barrier to care seeking or ongoing treatment participation” [11]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Diminishing stigmatization for those with mental illnesses by health care providers (HCPs) is becoming a priority for programming and policy, as well as research. In order to be successful, we must accurately measure stigmatizing attitudes and behaviours among HCPs. The Opening Minds Stigma Scale for Health Care Providers (OMS-HC) was developed to measure stigma in HCP populations. In this study we revisit the factor structure and the responsiveness of the OMS-HC in a larger, more representative sample of HCPs that are more likely to be targets for anti-stigma interventions. Baseline data were collected from HCPs (n = 1,523) during 12 different anti-stigma interventions across Canada. The majority of HCPs were women (77.4%) and were either physicians (MDs) (41.5%), nurses (17.0%), medical students (13.4%), or students in allied health programs (14.0%). Exploratory factor analysis (EFA) was conducted using complete pre-test (n = 1,305) survey data and responsiveness to change analyses was examined with pre and post matched data (n = 803). The internal consistency of the OMS-HC scale and subscales was evaluated using the Cronbach's alpha coefficient. The scale's sensitivity to change was examined using paired t-tests, effect sizes (Cohen's d), and standardized response means (SRM). The EFA favored a 3-factor structure which accounted for 45.3% of the variance using 15 of 20 items. The overall internal consistency for the 15-item scale (alpha = 0.79) and three subscales (alpha = 0.67 to 0.68) was acceptable. Subgroup analysis showed the internal consistency was satisfactory across HCP groups including physicians and nurses (alpha = 0.66 to 0.78). Evidence for the scale's responsiveness to change occurred across multiple samples, including student-targeted interventions and workshops for practicing HCPs. The Social Distance subscale had the weakest level of responsiveness (SRM <= 0.50) whereas the more attitudinal-based items comprising the Attitude (SRM <= 0.91) and Disclosure and Help-Seeking (SRM <= 0.68) subscales had stronger responsiveness. The OMS-HC has shown to have acceptable internal consistency and has been successful in detecting positive changes in various anti-stigma interventions. Our results support the use of a 15-item scale, with the calculation of three sub scores for Attitudes, Disclosure and Help-seeking, and Social Distance.
    BMC Psychiatry 04/2014; 14(1):120. DOI:10.1186/1471-244X-14-120 · 2.21 Impact Factor
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    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
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