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Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 2010 Sep;45(9):865-73. doi: 10.1007/s00127-009-0122-5. Epub 2009 Aug 21.

Knowledge and preferences regarding schizophrenia among Chinese-speaking Australians in Melbourne, Australia.

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School of Nursing and Social Work, Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences, The University of Melbourne, Level 5, 234 Queensberry Street, Carlton, Melbourne, VIC 3053, Australia.



The aim of this study was to better understand the knowledge of schizophrenia, preferences regarding professional help, medication and treatment methods among Australians of a Chinese-speaking background.


A cluster convenience sampling method was adopted in which subjects were taken from the four main areas in cosmopolitan Melbourne where most Chinese people live. A total of 200 Chinese-speaking Australians participated in the study. They were presented with a vignette describing an individual with schizophrenia and were then asked questions to assess their understanding of schizophrenia and their preferences regarding professional help, medication and treatment methods. A comparative approach was used to compare our findings with those of a previous study on the mental health literacy of Australian and Japanese adults.


Compared with the Australian and Japanese samples, a much lower percentage of Chinese-speaking Australians (15.5%) was able to identify the vignette as a case of schizophrenia/psychosis. A higher percentage of the Chinese-speaking Australians believed that professionals, and particularly counselling professionals, could be helpful for the person in the vignette. A higher percentage of the Chinese-speaking Australian and Japanese samples believed that close family members could be helpful, and expressed more uncertainty about the usefulness or harmfulness of certain medications than the Australian sample. A higher percentage of the Chinese-speaking Australians than the Australian and Japanese samples endorsed inpatient treatment for the person in the vignette. About 22, 17, 19 and 28% of the Chinese-speaking Australian participants, respectively, rated 'traditional Chinese medical doctors', 'Chinese herbal medications', 'taking Chinese nutritional foods/supplements' and 'qiqong' as helpful. Many perceived 'changing fungshui' and 'traditional Chinese prayer' to be harmful.


Campaigns to increase the schizophrenia literacy of Chinese-speaking Australians are needed and must take into consideration the aforementioned socially and culturally driven beliefs so that culturally relevant education programmes can be developed.

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