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Helpfulness of interventions for mental disorders: Beliefs of health professionals compared with the general public

  • Anthony F. Jorm (a1), Ailsa E. Korten (a1), Patricia A. Jacomb (a1), Bryan Rodgers (a1), Penelope Pollitt (a1), Helen Christensen (a1) and Scott Henderson (a1)...

Abstract

Background

The study aimed to compare the beliefs of health professionals about the potential helpfulness of various mental health interventions with those of the general public.

Method

Surveys were carried out in Australia of 872 general practitioners, 1128 psychiatrists, 454 clinical psychologists and 2031 members of the public. Respondents were presented with a case vignette describing either a person with depression or one with schizophrenia. Respondents were asked to rate the likely helpfulness of various types of professional and nonprofessional help and of pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions.

Results

The professionals gave much higher ratings than the public to the helpfulness of antidepressants for depression, and of antipsychotics and admission to a psychiatric ward for schizophrenia. Conversely, the public tended to give much more favourable ratings to vitamins and minerals and special diets for both depression and schizophrenia, and to reading self-help books for schizophrenia.

Conclusion

The beliefs that health practitioners hold about mental disorders differ greatly from those of the general public. There is a need for mental health education campaigns to help close the gap between professional and public beliefs.

Copyright

Corresponding author

Dr A. F. Jorm, NHMRC Psychiatric Epidemiology Research Centre, The Australian National University, Canberra 0200, Australia

References

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American Psychiatric Association (1994) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (4th edn) (DSM–IV). Washington, DC: APA.
Angermeyer, M. C. & Matschinger, H. (1996) Public attitude towards psychiatric treatment. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 94, 326336.
Jorm, A. F., Korten, A. E., Jacomb, P. A., et al (1997) Mental health literacy: a survey of the public's ability to recognise mental disorders and their beliefs about the effectiveness of treatment. Medical Journal of Australia. 166, 182186.
McKeon, P. & Carrick, S. (1991) Public attitudes to depression: a national survey. Irish Journal of Psychological Medicine, 8, 116121.
Regier, D. A., Hirschfeld, R. M., Goodwin, F. K., et al (1988) The NIMH depression awareness, recognition, and treatment program: structure, aims, and scientific basis. American Journal of Psychiatry, 145, 13511357.
Sims, A. (1993) The scar that is more than skin deep: the stigma of depression. British Journal of General Practice, 43, 3031.
World Health Organization (1993) The ICD–10 Classification of Mental and Behavioural Disorders. Diagnostic Criteria for Research. Geneva: WHO.
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The British Journal of Psychiatry
  • ISSN: 0007-1250
  • EISSN: 1472-1465
  • URL: /core/journals/the-british-journal-of-psychiatry
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Helpfulness of interventions for mental disorders: Beliefs of health professionals compared with the general public

  • Anthony F. Jorm (a1), Ailsa E. Korten (a1), Patricia A. Jacomb (a1), Bryan Rodgers (a1), Penelope Pollitt (a1), Helen Christensen (a1) and Scott Henderson (a1)...
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