, Volume 44, Issue 8, pp 658-665
Date: 12 Dec 2008

Health service staff’s attitudes towards patients with mental illness

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Stereotypes and prejudices against patients with mental illness are widespread in many societies. The aim of the present study is to investigate such attitudes among the staff and medical students, including employees and trainees, in a general university hospital.


Six hundred individuals (361 employees, 231 students) completed the following questionnaires: Level of Contact Report (LCR), Authoritarianism Scale (AS), and Opinion about Mental Illness (OMI), a scale yielding five factors (social discrimination, social restriction, social care, social integration, and aetiology). Multivariate linear regression models were applied in order to search for the simultaneous effect of many variables on the scores of OMI factors.


An important part of the sample held negative attitudes especially concerning social discrimination and restriction of the patients. Women, older and less educated staff, nursing staff, and people scoring higher on authoritarianism were more prejudiced. Higher scores on familiarity were associated with less negative attitudes.


The results indicate the need to develop sensitisation and training programs considering mental health topics among health service employees.