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J Psychiatr Ment Health Nurs. 2009 Aug;16(6):558-67. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2850.2009.01399.x.

Stigma, negative attitudes and discrimination towards mental illness within the nursing profession: a review of the literature.

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BSN Program, Faculty of Health Sciences, Douglas College, Coquitlam, BC, Canada.


The aim of this paper was to review the existing literature pertaining to stigma, negative attitudes and discrimination towards mental illness, specifically as viewed through the lens of the nursing profession. The results of the literature review were synthesized and analysed, and the major themes drawn from this were found to correspond with Schulze's model identifying three positions that healthcare workers may assume in relation to stigma of mental illness: 'stigmatizers', 'stigmatized' and 'de-stigmatizers'. In this paper, the nursing profession is examined from the perspectives of the first two major themes: the 'stigmatizers' and 'stigmatized'. Their primary sub-themes are identified and discussed: (1) Nurses as 'the stigmatizers': (a) nurses' attitudes in general medical settings towards patients with psychiatric illness and (b) psychiatric nurses; (2) Nurses as 'the stigmatized': (a) nurses who have mental illness and (b) stigma within the profession against psychiatric nurses and/or psychiatry in general. The secondary and tertiary sub-themes are also identified and reviewed.

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