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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

The development and psychometric properties of a new scale to measure mental illness related stigma by health care providers: The opening minds scale for Health Care Providers (OMS-HC)

Aliya Kassam1*, Andriyka Papish2, Geeta Modgill3 and Scott Patten4

Author Affiliations

1 Faculty of Medicine, Department of Community Health Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Calgary, 3330 Hospital Drive NW, Calgary, AB, T2N 4 N1, Canada

2 Department of Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, University of Calgary, 1403 - 29 Street NW, Calgary, Alberta, T2N 2T9, Canada

3 Opening Minds Anti-Stigma Initiative, Mental Health Commission of Canada, Suite 800, 10301 Southport Lane SW, Calgary, Alberta, T2W 1S7, Canada

4 Department of Community Health Sciences, University of Calgary, 3rd Floor TRW, 3280 Hospital Drive NW, Calgary, T2N 4Z6, Canada

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BMC Psychiatry 2012, 12:62  doi:10.1186/1471-244X-12-62

Published: 13 June 2012



Research on the attitudes of health care providers towards people with mental illness has repeatedly shown that they may be stigmatizing. Many scales used to measure attitudes towards people with mental illness that exist today are not adequate because they do not have items that relate specifically to the role of the health care provider.


We developed and tested a new scale called the Opening Minds Scale for Health Care Providers (OMS-HC). After item-pool generation, stakeholder consultations and content validation, focus groups were held with 64 health care providers/trainees and six people with lived experience of mental illness to develop the scale. The OMS-HC was then tested with 787 health care providers/trainees across Canada to determine its psychometric properties.


The initial testing OMS-HC scale showed good internal consistency, Cronbach’s alpha = 0.82 and satisfactory test-retest reliability, intraclass correlation = 0.66 (95% CI 0.54 to 0.75). The OMC-HC was only weakly correlated with social desirability, indicating that the social desirability bias was not likely to be a major determinant of OMS-HC scores. A factor analysis favoured a two-factor structure which accounted for 45% of the variance using 12 of the 20 items tested.


The OMS–HC provides a good starting point for further validation as well as a tool that could be used in the evaluation of programs aimed at reducing mental illness related stigma by health care providers. The OMS-HC incorporates various dimensions of stigma with a modest number of items that can be used with busy health care providers.