, Volume 48, Issue 5, pp 775-782
Date: 10 Oct 2012

Socioeconomic status and beliefs about depression, schizophrenia and eating disorders

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Abstract

Purpose

The association between socioeconomic status (SES) and knowledge/belief about depression, schizophrenia and eating disorders will be analysed.

Methods

Data stem from a telephone survey in two large German cities (Hamburg and Munich, n = 2,014, response rate 51 %). Written vignettes with typical signs and symptoms suggestive of a depression, schizophrenia and eating disorders were presented to the respondents. Respondents were then asked about knowledge/belief about causes, symptoms, prevalence and treatment using a standardised questionnaire. Education, occupational position and income were used as SES indicators.

Results

Results of mixed hierarchal logistic regression analyses show that individuals with a low SES know less about symptoms and prevalences of depression, schizophrenia and eating disorders. Moreover, people with a high SES are more likely to consider medication as effective in case of depression and schizophrenia, but are less likely to believe that activities such as sports or relaxation are an effective measure to treat the three mental disorders under study. Respondents with a high SES are less likely to believe that a weak will is a possible cause of depression, schizophrenia and eating disorders. We found large similarities in the associations between SES and beliefs across the three mental disorders. Finally, associations of beliefs about mental disorders with education are stronger and more consistent than with income and occupational position.

Conclusions

Results indicate an inequality in mental health literacy and underline that information campaigns on causes, symptoms, prevalence and treatment of mental disorders should consider information needs of people with a low SES.