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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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1
Department of Psychiatry, University of Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany. krausem@medizin.uni-liepzig.de

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

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

METHOD:

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.

RESULTS:

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.

CONCLUSION:

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.

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