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Acta Psychiatr Scand. 2006 Mar;113(3):163-79.

Public beliefs about and attitudes towards people with mental illness: a review of population studies.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany.



To provide a review of population-based attitude research in psychiatry during the past 15 years.


An electronic search using PubMed, Medline, and Academic Search Premier plus a hand search of the literature was carried out for studies on public beliefs about mental illness and attitudes towards the mentally ill published between 1990 and 2004.


Thirty-three national studies and 29 local and regional studies were identified, mostly from Europe. Although the majority are of descriptive nature, more recent publications include studies testing theory-based models of the stigmatization of mentally ill people, analyses of time trends and cross-cultural comparisons, and evaluations of antistigma interventions.


Attitude research in psychiatry made considerable progress over the past 15 years. However, there is still much to be done to provide an empirical basis for evidence-based interventions to reduce misconceptions about mental illness and improve attitudes towards persons with mental illness.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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