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Disabil Health J. 2018 Oct;11(4):612-617. doi: 10.1016/j.dhjo.2018.05.002. Epub 2018 May 16.

Attitudes towards motherhood of women with physical versus psychiatric disabilities.

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Department of Psychology, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan, Israel. Electronic address:
Department of Psychology, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan, Israel.
Community Mental Health Department at the University of Haifa, Haifa, Israel.



Women with disabilities may face social negative attitudes with regard to their being mothers. In addition, attitudes toward different disabilities form a hierarchy, with more positive attitudes being displayed toward persons with physical disabilities than toward persons with psychiatric disabilities.


Current observational study examined whether the relationship between a woman's type of disability (psychiatric vs. physical) and the social attitude towards her would be moderated by her being presented as a mother.


University students (N = 100) filled out the Multidimensional Attitudes Scale Toward Persons With Disabilities and the Social Distance Scale, after reading one of six randomly assigned fictitious vignettes. The vignettes consisted of a woman with a physical disability/a woman with a psychiatric disability/a woman without a disability, who either was or was not a mother.


Type of disability was found to have a main effect in some attitude domains, suggesting that attitudes toward women with physical disabilities were better than attitudes towards women with psychiatric disabilities. An interaction between type of disability and motherhood was found for the interpersonal distress subscale of the attitudes scale. It was found that when women had physical disabilities, there was no change in attitude towards them regardless of whether they were presented as mothers or not; However, when the target woman had a psychiatric disability, and she was presented as a mother, negative attitudes were generated towards her.


The study demonstrates the existence of a hierarchy of stigmatization and the effect of being a mother on stigmatization.


Attitudes; Disability; Motherhood; Psychiatry; Stigma


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