Background There is evidence for two different types and/or sources of mental illness stigma, namely the display of psychiatric symptoms and the use of psychiatric service institutions. However, no current study has compared the two. Furthermore, gaps exist in our knowledge of both types of stigma. Little is known about the perceived stigma of specific psychiatric service treatment environments, for instance forensic settings. In addition, systematic research on stigma attached to symptoms of personality disorders in the general population is scarce, and for borderline personality disorder, nonexistent. Methods We conducted a representative survey of the general population (N = 2207) in the canton of Basel-Stadt, Switzerland. Participants were asked to read a vignette depicting either the psychiatric symptoms of a fictitious character or a psychiatric service institution to which the character had been admitted, and indicate desired social distance (an indicator for stigma). Type of symptoms, type of psychiatric service, dangerousness, and gender were systematically varied between vignettes. Findings Desired social distance was significantly lower in relation to psychiatric service use than to psychiatric symptoms. Overall, symptoms of alcohol dependency, behavior endangering others, and the fictitious character’s being male tend to increase stigmatization. Interestingly, the character’s being hospitalized in a psychiatric unit at a general hospital and also respondent familiarity with psychiatric services tend to decrease stigmatization. Interpretation Familiarity of the general population with psychiatric patients should be increased. Furthermore, treatment in psychiatric units located within general hospitals should be promoted, as such treatment is associated with decreased stigma.
|European Archives of Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience
|Number of pages
|Published - 01.06.2017