Attitudes Toward Mental Illness in Adults by Mental Illness-Related Factors and Chronic Disease Status: 2007 and 2009 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System

Rosemarie Kobau and Matthew M. Zack are with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Population Health, Arthritis, Epilepsy, and Well-Being Branch, Atlanta, GA.
American Journal of Public Health (Impact Factor: 4.55). 09/2013; 103(11). DOI: 10.2105/AJPH.2013.301321
Source: PubMed


We examined how attitudes toward mental illness treatment and its course differ by serious psychological distress, mental illness treatment, chronic disease, and sociodemographic factors using representative state-based data.

Using data from jurisdictions supporting the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System's Mental Illness and Stigma Module (35 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico), we compared adjusted proportions of adults agreeing that "Treatment can help people with mental illness lead normal lives" (treatment effectiveness) and that "People are generally caring and sympathetic to people with mental illness" (supportive environment), by demographic characteristics, serious psychological distress, chronic disease status, and mental illness treatment.

Attitudes regarding treatment effectiveness and a supportive environment for people with mental illness varied within and between groups. Most adults receiving mental illness treatment agreed that treatment is effective. Fewer adults with serious psychological distress than those without such distress agreed that treatment is effective. Fewer of those receiving treatment, those with psychological distress, and those with chronic disease perceived the environment as supportive.

These data can be used to target interventions for population subgroups with less favorable attitudes and for surveillance.

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