An online intervention using information on the mental health-mental illness continuum to reduce stigma.

Abstract

BACKGROUND A core component of stigma is being set apart as a distinct, dichotomously different kind of person. We examine whether information on a continuum from mental health to mental illness reduces stigma. METHOD Online survey experiment in a quota sample matching the German population for age, gender and region (n=1679). Participants randomly received information on either (1) a continuum, (2) a strict dichotomy of mental health and mental illness, or (3) no information. We elicited continuity beliefs and stigma toward a person with schizophrenia or depression. RESULTS The continuum intervention decreased perceived difference by 0.19 standard deviations (SD, P<0.001) and increased social acceptance by 0.18 SD (P=0.003) compared to the no-text condition. These effects were partially mediated by continuity beliefs (proportion mediated, 25% and 26%), which increased by 0.19 SD (P<0.001). The dichotomy intervention, in turn, decreased continuity beliefs and increased notions of difference, but did not affect social acceptance. CONCLUSION Attitudes towards a person with mental illness can be improved by providing information on a mental health-mental illness continuum.

DOI: 10.1016/j.eurpsy.2015.11.006
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@article{Schomerus2016AnOI, title={An online intervention using information on the mental health-mental illness continuum to reduce stigma.}, author={Georg Schomerus and Matthias Claus Angermeyer and Sebastian E Baumeister and Susanne Stolzenburg and Bruce George Link and Jo C. Phelan}, journal={European psychiatry : the journal of the Association of European Psychiatrists}, year={2016}, volume={32}, pages={21-7} }