Levels of stigma among community mental health staff in Guangzhou, China

Jie Li, Juan Li, Graham Thornicroft, Yuanguang Huang
BMC Psychiatry 2014 August 13, 14: 231

BACKGROUND: Stigma and discrimination are widely experienced by people with mental illness, even in healthcare settings. The purposes of this study were to assess mental health stigma among community mental health staff in Guangzhou, China and in doing so also to assess the psychometric properties of the Reported and Intended Behaviour Scale (RIBS) - Chinese version.

METHODS: A cross-sectional survey was undertaken among 214 community mental health staff in Guangzhou from September to November, 2013. The Mental Health Knowledge Schedule (MAKS) and RIBS were administered together with the Mental Illness: Clinicians' Attitudes Scale (MICA) to evaluate staff stigma from the perspective of knowledge, attitudes and behaviour.

RESULTS: The total scores of RIBS, MAKS and MICA were (11.97 ± 3.41), (16.80 ± 5.39) and (51.69 ± 6.94) respectively. Female staff members were more willing to contact people with mental illness than males (t(212) = -2.85,P = 0.005) and had more knowledge about mental illness (t(212) = -2.28,P = 0.024). The Chinese version of RIBS had good internal consistency (alpha = 0.82), test-retest reliability (r = 0.68,P < 0.001) and adequate convergent validity, as indicated by a significant negative correlation with the Chinese version of MICA(r = -0.43, P < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS: Our results show relatively high levels of stigma toward people with mental illness among community mental health staff in Guangzhou, China. There are slightly gender differences in discriminatory behaviours and stigma related knowledge of mental illness among community mental health staff, with female staff in general less stigmatising. Accordingly, anti-stigma programmes should be established among healthcare staff. In addition, the Chinese version of RIBS is a reliable, valid and acceptable measure which can be used to assess the willingness of participants to contact people with mental illness in future anti-stigma campaigns.

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