JOURNAL ARTICLE

Gender specific correlates of stigma toward depression in a Canadian general population sample

JianLi Wang, Gordon Fick, Carol Adair, Daniel Lai
Journal of Affective Disorders 2007, 103 (1): 91-7
17292968

OBJECTIVES: To identify gender specific demographic, clinical, knowledge and attitudinal factors associated with stigma related to depression.

METHODS: Data were collected between February and June 2006 in a probability sampled population-based survey of 3047 adults in Alberta, Canada. Measures included a depression stigma scale. Correlates of stigma were examined using bivariate analyses and linear regression modeling methods separately for men and women.

RESULTS: In multivariate linear regression models, correct identification of depression in a case description and agreement with health professionals about treatments were associated with lower stigma scores, regardless of gender. Endorsing GP/family doctors and taking medications as being the best help for depression was negatively associated with stigma scores in women. In men, endorsing family/friends as the best help for depression or "don't know" the best help for depression was positively associated with stigma scores. Women who had family/friends with depression had less stigma than women who did not have. This was not observed in men. Among male participants, significant interactions between being a health professional, having close family/friends with depression and reporting "weakness of character" as a causal factor for depression were found.

CONCLUSIONS: Improving mental health literacy may be one of the promising ways to reduce stigma associated with depression. Personal contacts with individuals with depression may have positive effects on stigma in women. Mental health education and promotion should clarify misconceptions about causes, treatments and risk factors for depression. Gender differences related to stigma should be considered in stigma reduction initiatives.

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