Mental health professionals' attitudes towards people with mental illness : Do they differ from attitudes held by people with mental illness?

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AIMS: Studies investigating mental health professionals' attitudes towards people with mental illness are scarce and there is a lack of comparative studies including both patients' and mental health professionals' attitudes. The aim of the present study was to investigate mental health staff's attitudes towards people with mental illness and compare these with the attitudes of patients in contact with mental health services. A further aim was to relate staff attitudes to demographic and work characteristics. METHODS: A cross-sectional study was performed including 140 staff and 141 patients. The study included a random sample of outpatients in contact with mental health services in the southern part of Sweden and staff working in these services. Attitudes were investigated using a questionnaire covering beliefs of devaluation and discrimination of people with a mental illness. RESULTS: Negative attitudes were prevalent among staff. Most negative attitudes concerned whether an employer would accept an application for work, willingness to date a person who had been hospitalized, and hiring a patient to take care of children. Staff treating patients with a psychosis or working in inpatient settings had the most negative attitudes. Patient attitudes were overall similar to staff attitudes and there were significant differences in only three out of 12 dimensions. Patients' most negative attitudes were in the same area as the staff's. CONCLUSIONS: This study points to the suggestion that mental health care staff may hold negative attitudes and beliefs about people with mental illness with tentative implications for treatment of the patient and development and implementation of evidence-based services. Since patients and staff in most respects share these beliefs, it is essential to develop interventions that have an impact on both patients and staff, enabling a more recovery-oriented staff-patient relationship.


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Sidor (från-till)48-54
TidskriftInternational Journal of Social Psychiatry
Utgåva nummer1
StatusPublished - 2013
Peer review utfördJa