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