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The repentant sinner: methods to reduce stigmatised attitudes towards mental illness

  • Jason Luty (a1), Harish Rao (a2), Sujaa Mary Rajagopal Arokiadass (a3), Joby Maducolil Easow (a4) and Arghya Sarkhel (a4)...
Abstract
Aims and Method

To devise a simple technique to reduce stigmatised attitudes of the general public towards those with mental disorder (schizophrenia and substance misuse). Members of the general public (n=400) completed a questionnaire to measure stigmatised attitudes towards people with schizophrenia and substance misuse disorders. Participants were randomised to receive either a short, ‘upbeat’ leaflet with a description of a patient in remission and a photograph of a man in a business suit; or a simple description of a fictional patient. the 5-item Attitudes to Mental Illness Questionnaire (AMIQ) was used to measure the effect of the various procedures on stigmatised attitudes (score range −10 to +10).

Results

Results were received for 310 (77%) participants. the leaflet produced a large, statistically significant reduction in stigmatised attitudes towards people with opiate dependence (effect size 1.53, CI 1.23–1.82, P < 0.0001; median change 4 units) and alcohol dependence (effect size 1.41, CI 1.12–1.70, P < 0.0001; median change 4 units) but less so towards people with schizophrenia (effect size 0.54, CI 0.27–0.80, P=0.0002; median change 2 units). There was no difference between participants in respect of the control group at 4-week follow-up (233 responses received; 78% response rate).

Clinical Implications

A short illustrated leaflet can be used to reduce stigmatised attitudes towards substance misuse disorders if patients are presented in a positive manner. This is less effective for attitudes towards people with schizophrenia, possibly because people have a more generous attitude towards patients who have overcome substance misuse disorders.

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Copyright
This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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BJPsych Bulletin
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The repentant sinner: methods to reduce stigmatised attitudes towards mental illness

  • Jason Luty (a1), Harish Rao (a2), Sujaa Mary Rajagopal Arokiadass (a3), Joby Maducolil Easow (a4) and Arghya Sarkhel (a4)...
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