Publication Date

April 2015

Advisor(s)

Matthew Kurtz

Major

Neuroscience and Behavior

Language

English (United States)

Abstract

Stigma against schizophrenia is one of the largest barriers to treatment seeking and subsequent recovery. Stigmatization is the discrimination and loss of status triggered by negative stereotypes about the mentally ill, which impedes recovery by degrading individuals’ social status, social network, and self-esteem. International studies of schizophrenia have consistently found that patients with schizophrenia in developing countries have better course and outcome than those in developed countries, a disparity which could at least be partially explained by differences in the levels of stigmatization of mental illness across cultures. This pilot study compared the levels of stigma between an American and an Indian sample of patients with psychotic disorders using standardized, self-report measures of internalized stigma and functional disability. Participants in the United States sample also received measures of self-efficacy. The results revealed that individuals with schizophrenia in the United States had more internalized stigma than their Indian counterparts. The Indian sample was more functionally impaired than the American sample, and only the American sample demonstrated a significant association between the degree of internalized stigma and functional disability. This latter finding suggests that the effects of stigma in the United States might be mediated by beliefs around the ability to successfully complete key activities of daily living. Our results also revealed that self-efficacy mediates the relationship between stigma and disability in the American sample. These findings help to elucidate the complex nature of stigma and its relationship to other psychological and functional features of schizophrenia.

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