Public stigma of obsessive compulsive disorder and schizophrenic disorder: Is there really any difference?

Psychiatry Res. 2019 Jan:271:559-564. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2018.12.065. Epub 2018 Dec 10.


A substantial delay for help-seeking is a serious problem for people with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), a heterogeneous and debilitating mental health condition. Stigma is a major barrier to treatment seeking and further cause social and occupational impairment. Lack of comprehensive research led us to examine the public's stigmatizing attitudes towards checking, contamination, sexuality, aggression, and religion-related OCD symptoms, compared to schizophrenia. After reading one of six random case vignettes, 621 adults completed social distance scale. Analysis of Covariance or ANCOVA indicated that social distance towards violence and sexuality-related OCD symptoms and schizophrenia did not differ; but social distance for those was higher than religion, contamination, and checking subtypes. Although the contamination vignette did not differ from religion and checking vignettes, the theme of religion had a higher social distance than checking symptoms. Consequently, the current findings imply that there is a difference in public stigma among various symptoms of OCD and symptoms related to sexuality and violence, as well as schizophrenia, are associated with more social rejection. Thus, the general public needs access to educational methods of intervention and contact to eliminate stigma and improve the quality of life for people with mental health disorders.

Keywords: Mental health; OCD; Public stigma; Schizophrenia; Social distance; Symptom subtypes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder*
  • Psychological Distance
  • Quality of Life / psychology*
  • Schizophrenia*
  • Social Stigma*