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J Nerv Ment Dis. 2012 Nov;200(11):935-40. doi: 10.1097/NMD.0b013e3182718c1b.

Social distance and stigma toward individuals with schizophrenia: findings in an urban, African-American community sample.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Washington, DC 20037, USA.


Because schizophrenia is arguably among the most stigmatized health conditions, research assessing correlates of stigma is essential. This study examined factors associated with stigma in predominantly Protestant, low-income, urban African Americans in the Southeastern United States. A survey was distributed to 282 patrons of an inner-city food court/farmers' market. Associations were assessed between two measures of stigma--an adapted version of the Social Distance Scale (SDS) and a Semantic Differential Measure (SDM) of attributes such as dangerousness, dirtiness, and worthlessness--and several key variables addressing sociodemographic characteristics and exposure to/familiarity with mental illnesses. Independent predictors of scores on the two measures were identified using linear regression modeling. Higher stigma (as measured by the SDM) was predicted by a family history of psychiatric treatment, whereas lower stigma (as indicated by the SDS) was predicted by personal psychiatric treatment history and higher annual income. The results suggest special considerations when working with disenfranchised populations, especially family members of individuals with mental illnesses, in treatment settings.

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