Clinical Investigation

First-time Psychiatric Outpatients' Attitudes Toward Stigmatization Related To The Concept of Mental Disease

  • Hülya ARSLANTAŞ
  • Bülent Kadri GÜLTEKİN
  • Aydın SÖYLEMEZ
  • Ferhan DEREBOY

Received Date: 14.02.2009 Accepted Date: 08.06.2009 Meandros Med Dent J 2010;11(1):11-17

OBJECTIVE:

The aim of this study is to evaluate attitudes toward stigmatization related to mental disorders in patients during their initial evaluation at a university psychiatric outpatient clinic inAydın.

MATERIALS and METHODS:

249 outpatients evaluated between 1 of January 2006 and 28 of February 2006 at Psychiatric outpatient Clinic at Adnan Menderes University Faculty of Medicine were included in the study. Two self-report instruments developed by the researchers based on previous studies addressing stigmatization related to mental disorders were administered to participants: a 6-item sociodemoghraphic questionnaire and a 13-item inventory probing attitude towards mental disorders.

RESULTS:

Of the participants, 83.9 % considered schizophrenia as a mental disorder, 81.1 % believed that mental disorders could recover with treatment, 77.2 % thought that schizophrenia is the disorder with worst prognosis. Most frequently endorsed psychological factors associated with mental disorders were stressful events (81.1 %), events leading to feelings of sadness (68.3 %) and domestic problems (66.7 %). When probed about their reactions in case they were informed of a good neighbor having a mental disorder, 67.6%of the participants reported that this information would do no harm to their relationships with the diseased neighbor, however, 15% of the participants admitted to withdraw from their relationships in case the affected neighbor was schizophrenic. Merely 7.2 % of the participants reported that they might consider marriage with someone having mental disorder, and 29.6%that they would apply for psychiatric help without hesitation in case they were suffering from mental disturbances. When quarried about the reason for their hesitation, 35.7%of the patients admitted to have serious concerns about the possibility of spread of words upon their mental problems. No significant relationship was found between this concern and sex, age or socioeconomic status. Lack of such a concern was associated with optimism pertaining to the effectiveness of treatment.

CONCLUSION:

Not only stigmatizing attitudes towards mental illness, but also concerns over the likelihood of being stigmatized were common among participants. Stigmatization of schizophrenia was more serious when compared to that of depression, anxiety disorders or other mental disorders.

Keywords: Stigma, mental illness, attitude, perception