Can a less pejorative Chinese translation for schizophrenia reduce stigma? A study of adolescents' attitudes toward people with schizophrenia

Ka Fai Chung, John Hung Chan
Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences 2004, 58 (5): 507-15
The term jing-shen-fen-lie-zheng (mind-split-disease) has been used to denote schizophrenia in Chinese societies. Many Asian countries, where the Chinese writing system is used, adopt a similar translation. This study examined whether a less pejorative name si-jue-shi-diao (dys-regulation of thought and perception) as a diagnostic label for symptoms of schizophrenia could reduce stigma. Secondary school students (n = 313) were randomly assigned to read a vignette with one of four labels: si-jue-shi-diao, jing-shen-fen-lie-zheng, jing-shen-bin (mental illness), and no label. Students expressed their social distance, stereotypes held, and attributions toward a young adult who met the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual-IV of Mental Health Disorders criteria for schizophrenia. It was found that psychiatric labeling did not have a statistically significant main effect on attitude measures. However, students with religious beliefs were more accepting toward the target individual associated with diagnostic label than one with no labeling. The results cast doubts that less pejorative labels can reduce the social stigma of schizophrenia. Some potential drawbacks in using politically correct terms to describe schizophrenia are highlighted.

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