[Discrimination perceived by people with a diagnosis of schizophrenic disorders. INternational study of DIscrimination and stiGma Outcomes (INDIGO): French results]

N Daumerie, S Vasseur Bacle, J-Y Giordana, C Bourdais Mannone, A Caria, J-L Roelandt
L'Encéphale 2012, 38 (3): 224-31

INTRODUCTION: The INDIGO study (INternational study of DIscrimination and stiGma Outcomes) aims at assessing the impact of schizophrenic disorders diagnosis on privacy, social and professional life, in terms of discrimination. In the general population, and even among health and social professionals, erroneous negative stereotypes (double personality, dangerosity) lead to high social distance. And this has an impact on various parts of daily life: employment, housing, compliance, self-esteem… About a tenth of the adult population suffers from mental disorders at any one time. These disorders now account for about 12% of the global impact of disability, and this will rise to 15% by the year 2020. People living with schizophrenia, for example, experience reduced social participation, whilst public images of mental illness and social reactions add a dimension of suffering, which has been described as a "second illness". Stigmatizing attitudes and discriminatory behavior among the general population against people with severe mental illness are common in all countries. Globally, little is known of effective interventions against stigma. It is clear that the negative effects of stigma can act as formidable barriers to active recovery.

METHODOLOGY: The INDIGO study intends to establish detailed international data on how stigma and discrimination affect the lives of people with a diagnosis of schizophrenia. The first aim of the INDIGO study is to conduct qualitative and quantitative interviews with 25 people with a diagnosis of schizophrenia in each participating site, to elicit information on how the condition affects their everyday lives, with a focus upon sites in Europe. The second is to gather data for all participating countries on the laws, policies and regulations which set a clear distinction between people with a diagnosis of mental illness and others, to establish an international profile of such discrimination. A new scale (Discrimination and Stigma Scale [DISC]), used in a face-to-face setting was developed. Interviewers asked service users to comment on how far their mental disorder has affected key areas of their lives, including work, marriage and partnerships, housing, leisure, and religious activities. For country-level information, staff at each national site gathered the best available data on whether special legal, policy or administrative arrangements are made for people with a diagnosis of mental illness. These items included, for example, information on access to insurance, financial services, driving licenses, voting, jury service, or travel visas. The INDIGO study is conducted within the framework of the WPA global program to fight stigma and discrimination because of schizophrenia. French interviews occurred in two sites (Lille and Nice) on a sample of 25 patients.

RESULTS: First, expressed disadvantages are high for several items (all relations, work and training, housing). In addition, we wish to highlight three specific points: almost half of the participants (46%) suffer from not being respected because of contacts with services, 88% of them felt rejected by people who know their diagnosis, and 76% hide/conceal their diagnosis. Positive experienced discrimination was rare. Two thirds of participants anticipated discrimination for job seeking and close personal relationships, sometimes with no experienced discrimination.

CONCLUSIONS: This study, one of the rare in France adopting the point of view of a stigmatized group, revealed the numerous impacts of a diagnosis of schizophrenic disorders on everyday life. Comparisons between French and international results confirmed that the situation is not different in France, and even highlighted the extent of the stigmatization in the country.

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