Brief version of the Internalized Stigma of Mental Illness (ISMI) scale: psychometric properties and relationship to depression, self esteem, recovery orientation, empowerment, and perceived devaluation and discrimination

Jennifer E Boyd, Poorni G Otilingam, Bruce R Deforge
Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal 2014, 37 (1): 17-23

OBJECTIVE: The internalized stigma of mental illness impedes recovery and is associated with increased depression, reduced self-esteem, reduced recovery orientation, reduced empowerment, and increased perceived devaluation and discrimination. The Internalized Stigma of Mental Illness (ISMI) scale is a 29-item self-report questionnaire developed with consumer input that includes the following subscales: Alienation, Discrimination Experience, Social Withdrawal, Stereotype Endorsement, and Stigma Resistance. Here we present a 10-item version of the ISMI containing the two strongest items from each subscale.

METHOD: Participants were all outpatient veterans with serious mental illness. Following the rigorous scale-reduction methods set forth by Stanton and colleagues (2002), we selected the 10 items, tested the psychometrics of the shortened scale in the original validation sample (N = 127), and cross-checked the results in a second dataset (N = 760).

RESULTS: As expected, the ISMI-10 retained the essential properties of the ISMI-29, including adequate internal consistency reliability and external validity in relation to depression, self-esteem, recovery orientation, perceived devaluation and discrimination, and empowerment. The ISMI-10 scores are normally distributed and have similar descriptive statistics to the ISMI-29. The reliability and depression findings were replicated in a cross-validation sample.

CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE: We conclude that the ISMI-10 has strong psychometric properties and is a practical, reliable, and valid alternative to the original ISMI-29. Future work should test the ISMI-10 in more diverse samples. This shorter version should reduce respondent burden in program evaluation projects that seek to determine whether participation in psychosocial rehabilitation programming reduces internalized stigma.

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