COMPARATIVE STUDY
JOURNAL ARTICLE

Public attitudes towards people with mental illness in six German cities: results of a public survey under special consideration of schizophrenia

W Gaebel, A Baumann, A M Witte, H Zaeske
European Archives of Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience 2002, 252 (6): 278-87
12563536

OBJECTIVES: Attitudes of the urban population in Germany towards people with mental illness were investigated in this study. The results are compared with those of attitude surveys conducted by other research centres participating in the World Psychiatric Association's (WPA) global anti-stigma-programme "Fighting Stigma and Discrimination because of Schizophrenia - Open the Doors" (WPA 1998).

METHODS: A total of 7246 German-speaking persons aged 16 and over were interviewed in private households in six German cities by telephone using a standardised questionnaire. The respondents were asked about their knowledge in regard to schizophrenia, their social distance towards people with schizophrenia and estimations of the social stigmatisation of mental patients in general.

RESULTS: 33.1 % of the interviewees were able to name causes of schizophrenia. 76.5 % of the interviewees believe that people with schizophrenia often or very often need prescription drugs to control their symptoms. 81.1 % believe that most people would pass over the job application of a former mental patient in favour of another applicant.

CONCLUSIONS: Improvements in the education of the public about mental illnesses and provision of the opportunity for personal contact with mentally ill people are considered to be important measures for promoting the acceptance of the mentally ill by the public.

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