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The Views of Non-psychiatric Medical Specialists About People with Schizophrenia and Depression

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This study explored the views of non-psychiatric medical specialists about people with schizophrenia and depression and examined whether specialists’ approach to these clients, and their perception of dangerousness and social distance, differed by disorder. Non-psychiatric medical specialists working in community centers in Italy read either a schizophrenia or depression description and then completed a questionnaire on their views about people with that disorder. The schizophrenia-group (N = 114) was more sure than the depression-group (N = 97) that the patients should be approached differently in outpatient specialized clinics like those where the respondents worked; are incapable of caring for their own health; and are kept at distance by others. Perceived dangerousness did not significantly differ between the two groups. These findings highlight the potential effects of attitudes on medical practice and outline the need to educate non-psychiatric medical specialists on stigma as a strategy to reduce health discrepancies, particularly toward people diagnosed with schizophrenia.

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The authors thank the 211 NPMS for giving us their time.

Author information

Correspondence to Lorenza Magliano.

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All authors stated that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

The study was supported by a Grant from the University of Campania “Luigi Vanvitelli”, Caserta, Italy (approval no. 6, 17/04/2017).

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Appendix 1

Some people sometimes seem unable to distinguish between things that really happen and are experienced by other people, and things that happen only in their mind. Sometimes, these people believe or say things that seem bizarre or absurd to other people, or hear voices, smell things, or see images that other people do not. Sometimes, these people may have difficulty expressing their feelings or behaving appropriately (for instance, they may cry in response to a positive event, or may appear happy following an unpleasant one), or they may remain shut up in their house for a long time, or talk very little or not at all. They behave as if they lived in a world of their own, apparently without interest in anything or anybody. Sometimes they may have muddled thoughts, may invent odd or incomprehensible words, may lose the thread of the speech, or they may jump from one issue to another with no apparent reason.

Appendix 2

Some people sometimes feel sad, down, unable to feel pleasure, or to have interest for those activities they liked in the past. Sometimes, these people feel incompetent, may believe to be derided by the others, and make themselves feel guilty for trivial things. These people may have no hope for future and when their feelings of sadness and worthlessness become unbearable, they may decide to stop living. Sometimes, these people may have difficulties in eating and sleeping regularly, and may feel poor concentrated or physically tired. Other times, they may feel irritable and get annoyed with the others for unimportant things.

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Magliano, L., Ruggiero, G., Read, J. et al. The Views of Non-psychiatric Medical Specialists About People with Schizophrenia and Depression. Community Ment Health J (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10597-020-00567-x

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  • Stigma
  • Community care
  • Schizophrenia
  • Depression
  • Health professionals
  • Prejudices