Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology

, Volume 37, Issue 10, pp 475–482

Attitudes about schizophrenia from the pilot site of the WPA worldwide campaign against the stigma of schizophrenia


  • Angus H. Thompson
    • Dept. of Psychiatry and Department of Public Health Sciences, 13–103 Clinical Sciences Building, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2G3, Canada.
  • Heather Stuart
    • Department of Community Health and Epidemiology, Queens University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada
  • Roger C. Bland
    • Department of Psychiatry, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
  • Julio Arboleda-Florez
    • Department of Psychiatry, Queens University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada
  • Richard Warner
    • Mental Health Center of Boulder, Boulder, Colorado, U. S. A.
  • Ruth A. Dickson
    • Department of Psychiatry, Peter Lougheed Centre, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

DOI: 10.1007/s00127-002-0583-2

Cite this article as:
Thompson, A., Stuart, H., Bland, R. et al. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol (2002) 37: 475. doi:10.1007/s00127-002-0583-2


Background: A series of surveys were conducted to assess the attitudes of the public, and other groups, toward those with schizophrenia. The aim of these surveys was to aid in the planning and evaluation of the WPA anti-stigma initiative in Alberta, Canada. Method: A questionnaire was devised and administered via telephone to over 1,200 individuals in three Alberta cities, and in paper and pencil format to 40 members of the Schizophrenia Society of Alberta and 67 medical students. Results: In contrast to some earlier findings, “loss of mind” was rated to be more disabling than any other handicapping condition. In general, respondents showed a relatively sophisticated understanding of schizophrenia and a higher level of acceptance than might have been predicted. Nonetheless, this acceptance was not as high for situations where closer personal contact was likely, and fears of dangerousness continue to be associated with schizophrenia. The majority of respondents, however, felt that treatment aided those with schizophrenia, expressed support for progressive programmes for the mentally ill, and stated that they would be willing to pay higher taxes so that programming could be improved. Conclusions The results do not support the utility of a broad approach for an anti-stigma campaign, but rather suggest a more specific focus, such as perceived dangerousness.

Key words schizophrenia – attitudes – stigma – dangerousness – Canada – WPA
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© Steinkopff Verlag 2002