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Public beliefs about and attitudes towards bipolar disorder: testing theory based models of stigma



Public beliefs about and attitudes towards bipolar disorder: testing theory based models of stigma



Journal of Affective Disorders 175: 116-123



Given the vast literature into public beliefs and attitudes towards schizophrenia and depression, there is paucity of research on attitudes towards bipolar disorder despite its similar prevalence to schizophrenia. This study explored public beliefs and attitudes towards bipolar disorder and examined the relationship between these different components of stigma. Using an online questionnaire distributed via email, social networking sites and public institutions, 753 members of the UK population were presented with a vignette depicting someone who met DSM-IV criteria for bipolar disorder. Causal beliefs, beliefs about prognosis, emotional reactions, stereotypes, and social distance were assessed in response to the vignette. Preacher and Hayes procedure for estimating direct and indirect effects of multiple mediators was used to examine the relationship between these components of stigma. Bipolar disorder was primarily associated with positive beliefs and attitudes and elicited a relatively low desire for social distance. Fear partially mediated the relationship between stereotypes and social distance. Biomedical causal beliefs reduced desire for social distance by increasing compassion, whereas fate causal beliefs increased it through eliciting fear. Psychosocial causal beliefs had mixed effects. The measurement of stigma using vignettes and self-report questionnaires has implications for ecological validity and participants may have been reluctant to reveal the true extent of their negative attitudes. Dissemination of these findings to people with bipolar disorder has implications for the reduction of internalised stigma in this population. Anti-stigma campaigns should attend to causal beliefs, stereotypes and emotional reactions as these all play a vital role in discriminatory behaviour towards people with bipolar disorder.

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Accession: 058661389

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 25601311

DOI: 10.1016/j.jad.2014.12.047


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