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24-10-2011 | Mental health | Article

Anticipated discrimination common in schizophrenia patients

Abstract

Free abstract

MedWire News: Patients with schizophrenia commonly anticipate discrimination, but such anticipation is not necessarily associated with the experience of discrimination, say researchers.

Together with self-stigma, discrimination (anticipated and experienced) can have a significant negative effect on the lives of patients with schizophrenia, by influencing attitudes to help seeking and reducing coping abilities, explain Alp Üçok (Istanbul University, Turkey) and team.

To investigate levels of anticipated discrimination among patients with the mental health condition, the researchers studied data on 732 patients (62% men) with schizophrenia from 27 countries who participated in the International Study of Discrimination and Stigma Outcomes.

All of the participants were assessed using the Discrimination and Stigma Scale (DISC-10), which evaluates anticipated, perceived, and experienced levels of discrimination and stigma relating to work, social, and family life.

Data were also collected on the participants' education levels, employment status and history, and use of mental health services.

The researchers found that most (72%) participants reported that they felt the need to conceal their diagnosis to a great extent (40%) or to some extent (32%) because of anticipated discrimination. Of these, 50% reported that they experienced disadvantages in their family life because of their diagnosis, while 29% and 15% also reported that they experienced disadvantages in finding a job and in their social lives, respectively.

Furthermore, 64% of participants reported that anticipated discrimination had prevented them from applying for certain jobs, training or education, while 58% reported that anticipated discrimination had stopped them from looking for a close relationship.

Interestingly, the team also found that, among all participants, anticipated discrimination in finding and keeping a job was more common in the absence (36%) than in the presence (33%) of experienced discrimination, with similar findings relating to intimate relationships, at 34% versus 26%, respectively.

"Our findings suggest that anticipated discrimination is common and not necessarily associated with experienced discrimination [in patients with schizophrenia]," comment the researchers.

They conclude that the findings "suggest that to reduce discrimination it may be necessary both to introduce measures to minimize discrimination towards people with mental illness by others and to identify effective methods to reduce anticipated discrimination by people with mental illness towards themselves."

MedWire (www.medwire-news.md) is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a trading division of Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2010

By Mark Cowen

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