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Do mental health professionals stigmatize their patients?

Lauber C, et al. Acta Psychiatr Scand Suppl. 2006.


OBJECTIVE: Assessing stereotypes towards people with mental illness among mental health professionals, comparing their view to the Swiss general population and analysing the influence of demographic factors, profession and work place variables (type of ward, employment time and professional experience).

METHOD: Conducting a representative telephone survey (n = 1073). Factor analysis was used to achieve one-dimensional scales, which were analysed by regression analysis.

RESULTS: Most positive depictions were regarded as less characterizing people with mental illness, whereas most negative descriptions were viewed as more typing these people. Compared with the Swiss general population, mental health professionals have not consistently less negative or more positive stereotypes against mentally ill people. Of the 22 stereotypes five factors were detected: 'social disturbance', 'dangerousness', 'normal healthy', 'skills' and 'sympathy'. Stereotypes about people with mental illness are influenced by the professional background and if at all only slightly affected by gender, age, ward type, participation rate of the hospital, weekly working hours or years of professional experience.

CONCLUSION: Mental health professionals must improve their attitudes towards people with mental illness. Different ways, e.g. improving their professional education or their quality of professional contacts by regular supervision to prevent burn-out, are discussed.


16445483 [Indexed for MEDLINE]

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