Sociodemographic correlates of public stigma about mental illness: a population study on Hong Kong's Chinese population

BMC Psychiatry. 2021 May 29;21(1):274. doi: 10.1186/s12888-021-03301-3.


Background: Individuals with psychiatric disorders are often unwilling to seek help or often follow treatment regimens, fearing public stigma. This study identified the sociodemographic correlates of public stigma while accounting for mental health literacy and life satisfaction.

Methods: This study analysed data for 1514 individuals who participated in a population-based random telephone survey conducted in 2018. Sociodemographic characteristics included gender, age, education level, and occupation. Data on public stigma, mental health literacy, and life satisfaction were also collected. Multiple linear regression was conducted to examine the effects of sociodemographic characteristics on public stigma. A moderation analysis was performed to investigate the role of age and education in the relationship between mental health literacy and public stigma.

Results: Sociodemographic characteristics, such as female gender, older age, lower education, and occupation (particularly retired and homemakers), were associated with a higher public stigma. The association between public stigma and mental health literacy was the most significant among individuals aged 50 years and above with lower education levels.

Conclusions: This study showed that certain population subgroups, based on their sociodemographic profile, have a higher stigma about mental illnesses. Understanding the differential effects of sociodemographic factors on public stigma is imperative to developing effective anti-stigma campaigns.

Keywords: Anti-stigma campaigns; Mental health literacy; Public stigma; Sociodemographic correlates.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • China
  • Female
  • Hong Kong
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders*
  • Mental Health
  • Social Stigma*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires