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Stigmatising attitudes of undergraduates towards their peers with depression: a cross-sectional study in Sri Lanka

Stigmatising attitudes of undergraduates towards their peers with depression: a cross-sectional study in Sri Lanka

Bmc Psychiatry 15: 129

There is limited research examining mental health-related stigma of undergraduates in non-western developing countries. This study examined stigma of undergraduates in Sri Lanka towards another depressed undergraduate. A hypothetical vignette of an undergraduate suffering from depression was presented. A total of 4650 undergraduates responded to scales assessing their personal stigma towards and desire for social distance from this individual. Exploratory structural equation modelling (ESEM) was performed to determine the dimensionality and loading pattern of the items on these two stigma scales. Multiple linear regressions were used to explore correlates of the identified dimensions of stigma. Previous findings that the Social Distance Scale forms a single dimension and that the Personal Stigma Scale consists of two dimensions were supported. However, the measurement structure of the dimensions of stigma on the latter scales, labelled 'Weak-not-Sick' and 'Dangerous-Undesirable'‚ÄČ, differed from previous work. A high level of stigma in relation to the 'Weak-not-Sick' Scale was observed. However, some correlates associated with lower levels of stigma on this scale, such as being in the Medical Faculty, were associated with higher levels of stigma on the 'Dangerous-Undesirable' and 'Social Distance' scales. In contrast, labelling the problem as a mental health-related problem, with absence of specific psychiatric terminology, was associated with lower levels of stigma on these latter two scales. Exposure to a mental health problem in family or friends or from personal experience was also associated with lower stigma on the Social Distance Scale. However, the effect sizes of these relationships were small. The findings highlight differences in the measurement structure and score distribution of the 'Weak-not-Sick' and 'Dangerous-Undesirable' scales when used in different cultural and demographic contexts. The dimensionality of stigma relevant to these scales must always be established prior to their use in different contexts. Furthermore, campaigns targeted at improving knowledge about depression as a real illness and as a psychiatric condition need to ensure that such attempts are not associated with increases in other aspects of stigma.

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Accession: 058905480

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 26087847

DOI: 10.1186/s12888-015-0523-9

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