Down in the dumps: Less-educated men more prone to stigma

April 17, 2008

Personal stigma associated with depression is higher among men and the less well educated, according to research published in the open access journal BMC Psychiatry. The findings by the Australian team highlight the importance of developing programs to tackle the stigma associated with depression.

Researchers from the Australian National University examined both personal stigma, which is the negative attitude a person has towards depression, and perceived stigma, which describes the stigma felt by a person with depression.

"We already know that stigma is a leading cause of concern for people suffering from depression but up until now not a lot has been done to examine it," explained lead researcher Kathleen Griffiths. "Our work is critical to the successful design and targeting of programs that address the public's negative attitudes to people with depression and help to reduce the stigma felt by those who are already depressed."

Over six thousand Australian adults, including some with depression, answered the research surveys in an attempt to investigate and compare their own levels of perceived stigma as well as personal stigma. People who had come into contact with depression had lower levels of personal stigma. The researchers found that people who scored highest on a test of depression knowledge were less likely to stigmatize the condition.

At a national level, older people were more likely to hold stigmatizing views and to believe that the public viewed people with depression in a poor light. "Interestingly" said, Griffiths, "although it is often assumed that people from rural areas have more negative attitudes to mental disorders, we did not find any difference between stigma in the country and city."

Griffiths concluded; "This is the first study to investigate predictors of personal stigma among those people with high levels of depressive symptoms. Personal stigmas were higher for males, those with less education, those born overseas and people in greater psychological distress. While our study showed that stigma is not as high as many members of the public think, it is still a problem. For example, as many as one-in-five Australians say that they would not work with someone with depression". We recommend developing targeted programs to reduce these levels of stigma. A good place to start might be with men, older people, those with lower education levels and those born overseas."
-end-
Notes to Editors:

1. Predictors of depression stigma
Kathleen M Griffiths, Helen Christensen and Anthony F Jorm
BMC Psychiatry (in press)

During embargo, article available here: http://www.biomedcentral.com/imedia/8401474139746947_article.pdf?random=266868

After the embargo, article available at the journal website: http://www.biomedcentral.com/bmcpsychiatry/

Please name the journal in any story you write. If you are writing for the web, please link to the article. All articles are available free of charge, according to BioMed Central's open access policy.

Article citation and URL available on request at press@biomedcentral.com on the day of publication.

2. BMC Psychiatry is an open access journal publishing original peer-reviewed research articles in all aspects of the prevention, diagnosis and management of psychiatric disorders, as well as related molecular genetics, pathophysiology, and epidemiology. BMC Psychiatry (ISSN 1471-244X) is indexed/tracked/covered by PubMed, MEDLINE, CAS, Scopus, EMBASE, Thomson Scientific (ISI) and Google Scholar.

3. BioMed Central (http://www.biomedcentral.com/) is an independent online publishing house committed to providing immediate access without charge to the peer-reviewed biological and medical research it publishes. This commitment is based on the view that open access to research is essential to the rapid and efficient communication of science.

BioMed Central

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