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Schizophr Bull. 1981;7(2):225-40.

Scaling community attitudes toward the mentally ill.


The measurement of public attitudes toward the mentally ill has taken on new significance since the introduction of community-based mental health care. Previous attitude scales have been constructed and applied primarily in a professional context. This article discusses the development and application of a new set of four scales explicitly designed to measure community attitudes toward the mentally ill. The scales represent dimensions included in previous instruments, specifically, authoritarianism, benevolence, social restrictiveness, and community mental health ideology, but are expressed in terms of an almost completely new set of items that emphasize community contact with the mentally ill and mental health facilities. Data from a study of community attitudes about neighborhood mental health facilities in Toronto are used to test the internal and external validity of the scales. Results of the analysis provide strong support for the validity of the scales and demonstrate their usefulness as explanatory and predictive variables for studying community response to mental health facilities.

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