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Schizophr Bull. 2008 Sep;34(5):984-94. Epub 2007 Dec 1.

Can antistigma campaigns be improved? A test of the impact of biogenetic vs psychosocial causal explanations on implicit and explicit attitudes to schizophrenia.

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Section for Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, Faculty of Psychology, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Marburg, Germany.


Antistigma campaigns have been promoting a medical view of schizophrenia. Given the growing body of research finding negative associations between biogenetic (BG) causal attributions and stigmatizing attitudes, this approach must be reappraised. The present study investigates the impact of different psychoeducational interventions on the etiology of schizophrenia (BG and psychosocial [PS], vs a neutral condition) and on stigmatizing attitudes in medical (n = 60) and psychology students (n = 61). Information was presented via information brochures and a video presentation. Attitudes were assessed before and after the interventions on an explicit level using the stereotype questionnaire and the Social Distance Scale as well as on an implicit level, using the Implicit Association Test. Both educational interventions produced a significant decrease in several stereotype components, which was not the case in the neutral condition. The BG intervention decreased the attribution of blame in both groups. It also decreased the stereotype unpredictability/incompetence and social distance in the medical students but increased the negative outlook on prognosis in the psychology students. The PS intervention reduced the widespread stereotype of dangerousness as well as social distance in the group of medical students. While further research into antistigma interventions is necessary, the proposal for antistigma campaigns is to take a multidimensional and balanced approach, which is adapted to target groups and provides additional facts that challenge the myths maintaining stigma.

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