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Open Access Research article

Influence of contact with schizophrenia on implicit attitudes towards schizophrenia patients held by clinical residents

Ataru Omori1, Amane Tateno1, Takashi Ideno2, Hidehiko Takahashi34*, Yoshitaka Kawashima1, Kazuhisa Takemura2 and Yoshiro Okubo1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Neuropsychiatry, Nippon Medical School, 1-1-5 Sendagi, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo, 113-8602, Japan

2 Department of Psychology, Waseda University, 1-24-1 Toyama, Shinjyuku-ku, Tokyo, 162-8644, Japan

3 Department of Psychiatry, Kyoto University Graduate School of Medicine, 54 Shogoin-Kawara-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto, 606-8507, Japan

4 Precursory Research for Embryonic Science and Technology (PRESTO), Japan Science and Technology Agency, 4-1-8 Honcho, Kawaguchi, Saitama, 332-0012, Japan

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BMC Psychiatry 2012, 12:205  doi:10.1186/1471-244X-12-205

Published: 22 November 2012

Abstract

Background

Patients with schizophrenia and their families have suffered greatly from stigmatizing effects. Although many efforts have been made to eradicate both prejudice and stigma, they still prevail even among medical professionals, and little is known about how contact with schizophrenia patients affects their attitudes towards schizophrenia.

Methods

We assessed the impact of the renaming of the Japanese term for schizophrenia on clinical residents and also evaluated the influence of contact with schizophrenia patients on attitudes toward schizophrenia by comparing the attitudes toward schizophrenia before and after a one-month clinical training period in psychiatry. Fifty-one clinical residents participated. Their attitudes toward schizophrenia were assessed twice, before and one month after clinical training in psychiatry using the Implicit Association Test (IAT) as well as Link’s devaluation-discrimination scale.

Results

The old term for schizophrenia, “Seishin-Bunretsu-Byo”, was more congruent with criminal than the new term for schizophrenia, “Togo-Shitcho-Sho”, before clinical training. However, quite opposite to our expectation, after clinical training the new term had become even more congruent with criminal than the old term. There was no significant correlation between Link's scale and IAT effect.

Conclusions

Renaming the Japanese term for schizophrenia still reduced the negative images of schizophrenia among clinical residents. However, contact with schizophrenia patients unexpectedly changed clinical residents’ attitudes towards schizophrenia negatively. Our results might contribute to an understanding of the formation of negative attitudes about schizophrenia and assist in developing appropriate clinical training in psychiatry that could reduce prejudice and stigma concerning schizophrenia.

Keywords:
Prejudice; Stigma; Implicit association test; Education; Schizophrenia