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Int J Bipolar Disord. 2014 Jan 21;2:1. doi: 10.1186/2194-7511-2-1. eCollection 2014.

Using theatre to address mental illness stigma: a knowledge translation study in bipolar disorder.

Author information

1
Division of Mood Disorders, Department of Psychiatry, University of British Columbia, 2255 Wesbrook Mall, Vancouver, V6T 2A1 Canada.
2
Saint Mary's University, 923 Robie St, Halifax, Nova Scotia B3H 3C3 Canada.
3
Crazy for Life Co., P.O. Box 1354, Sechelt, British Columbia V0N 3A0 Canada.
4
School of Social Work, University of British Columbia, ARTS Bldg, 3333 University Way, Kelowna, British Columbia V1V 1V7 Canada.
5
Université de Saint-Boniface, 200 Avenue de la Cathedrale, Winnipeg, MB R2H 0H7 Canada.
6
University of Toronto, 399 Bathurst Street, Toronto, Ontario M5T 2S8 Canada ; University Health Network, 190 Elizabeth Street, Toronto, Ontario M5G 2C4 Canada.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Reduction of the stigma of mental illness is an international priority; arts- and contact-based approaches represent a promising mode of intervention. This project was designed to explore the impact of a one-woman theatrical performance on attitudes towards bipolar disorder (BD) on people with BD and healthcare providers.

METHODS:

A playwright and actress who lives with BD developed a stage performance - 'That's Just Crazy Talk' - targeting stigmatizing attitudes towards BD. Prospective, longitudinal and sequential mixed methods were used to assess the impact of the performance on people with BD (n = 80) and healthcare providers (n = 84). Qualitative interviews were conducted with 33 participants (14 people with BD and 19 healthcare providers).

RESULTS AND DISCUSSION:

Quantitatively, healthcare providers showed significantly improved attitudes immediately post-performance, but this change was not maintained over time; people with BD showed little quantitative change. Qualitatively, both people with BD and BD healthcare providers showed enduring and broadly positive changes. A theatrical presentation designed to reduce stigma produced immediate impact on healthcare providers quantitatively and significant qualitative impact on people with BD and healthcare providers. Additionally, the utility of using mixed-method approaches in mental health research was demonstrated.

KEYWORDS:

Bipolar disorder; Knowledge translation; Mixed methods; Narrative medicine; Stigma; Theatre

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