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Journal cover: Journal of Public Mental Health

Journal of Public Mental Health

ISSN: 1746-5729

Online from: 1999

Subject Area: Health and Social Care

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Public perceptions, knowledge and stigma towards people with schizophrenia

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Title:Public perceptions, knowledge and stigma towards people with schizophrenia
Author(s):Valerie Smith, (Department of Social Sciences, Endicott College, Beverly, Massachusetts, USA), Jairus Reddy, (Texas Woman's University, Denton, Texas, USA), Kenneth Foster, (Texas Woman's University, Denton, Texas, USA), Edward T. Asbury, (Texas Woman's University, Denton, Texas, USA), Jennifer Brooks, (Collin County Community College, McKinney, Texas, USA)
Citation:Valerie Smith, Jairus Reddy, Kenneth Foster, Edward T. Asbury, Jennifer Brooks, (2011) "Public perceptions, knowledge and stigma towards people with schizophrenia", Journal of Public Mental Health, Vol. 10 Iss: 1, pp.45 - 56
Keywords:Attitudes, Individual perception, Mental illness
Article type:Research paper
DOI:10.1108/17465721111134547 (Permanent URL)
Publisher:Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to obtain perceptions of educated non-professionals towards people with schizophrenia.

Design/methodology/approach – A social distance scale and a schizophrenia knowledge and attitude survey were administered to 330 undergraduates. It was predicted that knowledge and personal family experience would predict tolerance attitudes and social distance comfort towards persons with schizophrenia.

Findings – Knowledge about schizophrenia and personal family experience with mental illness had similar effects on tolerance scores. Specifically, those with higher knowledge and family members with schizophrenia reported higher levels of tolerance (i.e. less stigma). Conversely, participants with a family member diagnosed with a mental illness reported less social distance comfort to persons with schizophrenia as opposed to those without mental illness in the family. Finally, gender differences indicated that women held more tolerant attitudes towards schizophrenia compared with men.

Originality/value – Few studies have focused on educated non-professional perceptions and attitudes towards the mentally ill.

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