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J Nerv Ment Dis. 1997 Mar;185(3):151-8.

Public opinion on psychotropic drugs: an analysis of the factors influencing acceptance or rejection.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of Mainz, Germany.


Widespread negative attitudes and irrational beliefs about psychotropic drugs held by the public affect patients' treatment compliance. This study was an attempt to identify factors influencing people's acceptance or rejection of psychotropic drugs. An opinion poll was taken by a representative group of 2,176 adults in Germany. In addition to their attitudes toward psychotropic and cardiac drugs and their ratings of perceived risks and benefits, they were also asked about their drug knowledge, their fear of losing self-control, and their fundamental political values. Our results show that even for the treatment of severe mental disease, psychotropic drugs generally are not well accepted compared to cardiac drugs. Psychotropic drugs are believed to cause significantly more severe side effects and provoke more fear of losing control compared with cardiac drugs. Knowledge about psychotropic drugs and experiences with patients suffering from mental disorders are rather limited. Therefore, other sources of information such as negatively tainted reports in the mass media have a significant impact on opinions about psychotropic drugs. Unexpectedly, negative media reports are even more important for the discrimination of distinct subtypes like "acceptors" and "rejecters" of psychotropic drugs than fundamental value orientation. It is recommended that educational and information measures must be enacted to achieve balanced presentation of psychotropic drugs, their effects, and their side effects in the mass media. Improved communication and linguistic elements used in psychotherapeutic settings should be integrated into biological psychiatry to improve understanding of the concepts of mental diseases and their treatment.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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