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Eur Psychiatry. 2004 Nov;19(7):423-7.

What about psychiatrists' attitude to mentally ill people?

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  • 1Psychiatric University Hospital, Militärstrasse 8, PO Box 1930, 8021 Zurich, Switzerland.



Firstly, to assess and, secondly, to compare experts' and lay attitudes towards community psychiatry and the respective social distance towards mentally ill people.


Comparison of two representative Swiss samples, one comprising of 90 psychiatrists, the other including 786 individuals of the general population.


The psychiatrists' attitude was significantly more positive than that of the general population although both samples have a positive attitude to community psychiatry. The statement that mental health facilities devalue a residential area has revealed most agreement. Psychiatrists and the public do not differ in their social distance to mentally ill people. Among both samples, the level of social distance increases the more the situation described implies "social closeness".


The strategy to use psychiatrists as role models or opinion leaders in anti-stigma campaigns cannot be realised without accompanying actions. Psychiatrists must be aware that their attitudes do not differ from the general public and, thus, they should improve their knowledge about stigma and discrimination towards people with mental illnesses.

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