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Open Access Research article

Stigma toward schizophrenia: do all psychiatrists behave the same? Latent profile analysis of a national sample of psychiatrists in Brazil

Alexandre Andrade Loch1*, Francisco Bevilacqua Guarniero1, Fabio Lorea Lawson1, Michael Pascal Hengartner2, Wulf Rössler23, Wagner Farid Gattaz1 and Yuan-Pang Wang1

Author Affiliations

1 Laboratory of Neuroscience (LIM 27), Department and Institute of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, University of São Paulo, R. Dr. Ovídio Pires de Campos, 785, 3º andar, ala norte, sala 1, São Paulo CEP 05403-000, Brazil

2 Department of General and Social Psychiatry, Psychiatric University Hospital, University of Zurich, Militärstrasse 8, Zurich, 8004, Switzerland

3 Collegium Helveticum, a Joint Research Institute between the University of Zurich and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Schmelzbergstrasse 25, Zurich, CH-8092, Switzerland

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BMC Psychiatry 2013, 13:92  doi:10.1186/1471-244X-13-92

Published: 21 March 2013

Abstract

Background

An important issue concerning the worldwide fight against stigma is the evaluation of psychiatrists’ beliefs and attitudes toward schizophrenia and mental illness in general. However, there is as yet no consensus on this matter in the literature, and results vary according to the stigma dimension assessed and to the cultural background of the sample. The aim of this investigation was to search for profiles of stigmatizing beliefs related to schizophrenia in a national sample of psychiatrists in Brazil.

Methods

A sample of 1414 psychiatrists were recruited from among those attending the 2009 Brazilian Congress of Psychiatry. A questionnaire was applied in face-to-face interviews. The questionnaire addressed four stigma dimensions, all in reference to individuals with schizophrenia: stereotypes, restrictions, perceived prejudice and social distance. Stigma item scores were included in latent profile analyses; the resulting profiles were entered into multinomial logistic regression models with sociodemographics, in order to identify significant correlates.

Results

Three profiles were identified. The “no stigma” subjects (n = 337) characterized individuals with schizophrenia in a positive light, disagreed with restrictions, and displayed a low level of social distance. The “unobtrusive stigma” subjects (n = 471) were significantly younger and displayed the lowest level of social distance, although most of them agreed with involuntary admission and demonstrated a high level of perceived prejudice. The “great stigma” subjects (n = 606) negatively stereotyped individuals with schizophrenia, agreed with restrictions and scored the highest on the perceived prejudice and social distance dimensions. In comparison with the first two profiles, this last profile comprised a significantly larger number of individuals who were in frequent contact with a family member suffering from a psychiatric disorder, as well as comprising more individuals who had no such family member.

Conclusions

Our study not only provides additional data related to an under-researched area but also reveals that psychiatrists are a heterogeneous group regarding stigma toward schizophrenia. The presence of different stigma profiles should be evaluated in further studies; this could enable anti-stigma initiatives to be specifically designed to effectively target the stigmatizing group.

Keywords:
Social distance; Stereotype; Prejudice; Psychosis; Mental health professionals