Stigmatization of schizophrenia as perceived by nurses, medical doctors, medical students and patients

J Psychiatr Ment Health Nurs. 2011 Sep;18(7):576-85. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2850.2011.01706.x. Epub 2011 Feb 20.


Stigmatization of schizophrenia is widespread and its genetic explanation may potentially increase the stigma. The present study investigated whether seeing schizophrenia as a genetic or environmental disorder might influence perceived beliefs towards people with schizophrenia and whether social stigmatizing attitudes were differently perceived the 202 subjects who were recruited. Perceived social stigmatizing attitudes were compared among participants who read two vignettes depicting a person with schizophrenia. Then, the Standardized Stigmatization Questionnaire (SSQ) was administered. A genetic explanation of schizophrenia was more frequently associated with stigmatizing attitudes. Also, there were higher levels of perceived stigmatization in medical students and medical doctors than in other groups based on their social experience or background. However, the sample size was small and this was a non-experimental design; also the SSQ would benefit from more cross-validation. About half of the participants perceived stigmatizing social attitudes. Finally, considering schizophrenia as a genetic disorder influenced participants perception of other people's beliefs about dangerousness and unpredictability and people's desire for social distance.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Attitude to Health
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Italy
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Negativism
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital / psychology*
  • Patient Advocacy*
  • Physicians / psychology*
  • Schizophrenia*
  • Social Perception
  • Social Problems
  • Stereotyping*
  • Students, Medical / psychology*
  • Young Adult