Social distance toward people with schizophrenia is associated with favorable understanding and negative stereotype

Psychiatry Res. 2018 Mar:261:264-268. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2017.12.081. Epub 2018 Jan 2.


Previous studies have suggested the consequence of mental health-related public stigma: the problem of knowledge may develop into problem of attitude and behaviour. However, this has not been directly explored in a longitudinal study. As the secondary analysis from our previous randomized controlled trial (RCT) for 219 participants who completed the survey at the 12-month follow-up, we aimed to investigate whether the knowledge and attitude components of stigma toward people with schizophrenia affect each other. At baseline and at 12 months, three types of stigma scales were measured: favorable understanding, negative stereotype, and social distance toward people with schizophrenia. A structured equation model was fitted to the trajectory of stigma scales taking into account the effect of the other stigma components and the interventions. The results showed that greater social distance toward people with schizophrenia at baseline was associated with less favorable understanding and more negative stereotype at the 12-month follow-up. This was not in line with the existing consequences from the previous studies; however, in line with the recent RCTs showing that social contact is the most effective intervention to reduce stigma. Future observational studies with a larger sample size are needed to clarify this relationship further.

Keywords: Longitudinal studies; Mental health; Social discrimination; Stigma.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Psychological Distance*
  • Schizophrenia*
  • Social Stigma*
  • Stereotyping*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult