Stigma resistance in patients with schizophrenia

Ingrid Sibitz, Annemarie Unger, Andreas Woppmann, Thomas Zidek, Michaela Amering
Schizophrenia Bulletin 2011, 37 (2): 316-23

BACKGROUND: An individual's capacity to counteract the stigma of mental illness, stigma resistance (SR), is considered as playing a crucial role in fighting stigma. However, little is known about SR and its correlates in patients with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder.

AIM: Exploring SR in patients with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder.

METHOD: One hundred fifty-seven participants completed the "Internalized Stigma of Mental Illness" (ISMI) Scale including its subscale on SR. Measures of perceived devaluation and discrimination, depression, self-esteem, empowerment, quality of life, and demographic and clinical variables were obtained.

RESULTS: Two-thirds of all patients showed high SR. SR correlated positively with self-esteem, empowerment, and quality of life and negatively with stigma measures and depression. A social network with a sufficient number of friends, being single or married, in contrast to being separated, as well as receiving outpatient treatment, was associated with higher SR.

CONCLUSIONS: SR is a new and promising concept. The development of stigma-resisting beliefs might help individuals in their hope of finding a fulfilling life and in their recovery from mental illness.

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