Perception of stigma among patients with schizophrenia

Aygun Ertugrul, Berna Uluğ
Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology 2004, 39 (1): 73-7

BACKGROUND: Many individuals with schizophrenia are stigmatized by society. It is necessary to understand the factors contributing to stigma. This study investigated the relation of symptoms and other patient characteristics with perceived stigmatization in patients with schizophrenia.

METHOD: Sixty patients with schizophrenia were included in the study. Symptomatology was assessed with the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale. Perceived stigmatization was measured by several questions which were included in the World Health Organization-Disability Assessment Schedule-II (WHODAS-II). Patients were grouped as positive or negative for perceived stigmatization. Characteristics of patients and severity of symptoms were compared between the two groups.

RESULTS: The results showed that patients who reported to perceive stigmatization had more severe symptoms than the patients who did not perceive stigmatization. Positive symptoms and general psychopathology scores were significantly higher in the group perceiving stigmatization. Patients reporting stigmatization were significantly more disabled than the group negative for perceived stigmatization. Demographic variables were not different between the two groups. Stepwise regression analysis showed that depression and active social avoidance were the items which could predict the perception of stigmatization.

CONCLUSION: The relation between perception of stigmatization and symptoms is a vicious circle in which the elements reinforce each other. Interruption of this circle will increase the adaptive abilities and decrease the disability of these patients.

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