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.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price includes VAT for USA
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
This is the net price. Taxes to be calculated in checkout.
Ashworth, M., Schofield, P., & Das-Munshi, J. (2017). Physical health in severe mental illness. British Journal of General Practice,67(663), 436–437. https://doi.org/10.3399/bjgp17X692621.
Corrigan, P. W., Mittal, D., Reaves, C. M., Haynes, T. F., Han, X., Morris, S., et al. (2014). Mental health stigma and primary health care decisions. Psychiatry Research,218(1–2), 35–38. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psychres.2014.04.028.
De Hert, M., Correll, C. U., Bobes, J., Cetkovich-Bakmas, M., Cohen, D., Asai, I., et al. (2011a). Physical illness in patients with severe mental disorders. I. Prevalence, impact of medications and disparities in health care. World Psychiatry,10(1), 52–77. https://doi.org/10.1002/j.2051-5545.2011.tb00014.x.
De Hert, M., Cohen, D., Bobes, J., Cetkovich-Bakmas, M., Leucht, S., Ndetei, D. M., et al. (2011b). Physical illness in patients with severe mental disorders. II. Barriers to care, monitoring and treatment guidelines, plus recommendations at the system and individual level. World Psychiatry,10(2), 138–151. https://doi.org/10.1002/j.2051-5545.2011.tb00036.x.
Fenton, W. S., & Stover, E. S. (2006). Mood disorders: Cardiovascular and diabetes comorbidity. Current Opinion Psychiatry,19(4), 421–427. https://doi.org/10.1097/01.yco.0000228765.33356.9f.
Giandinoto, J. A., Stephenson, J., & Edward, K. L. (2018). General hospital health professionals' attitudes and perceived dangerousness towards patients with comorbid mental and physical health conditions: Systematic review and meta-analysis. International Journal of Mental Health Nursing,27(3), 942–955. https://doi.org/10.1111/inm.12433.
Harangozo, J., Reneses, B., Brohan, E., Sebes, J., Csukly, G., López-Ibor, J. J., et al. (2014). Stigma and discrimination against people with schizophrenia related to medical services. International Journal of Social Psychiatry,60(4), 359–366. https://doi.org/10.1177/0020764013490263.
Henderson, C., Noblett, J., Parke, H., Clement, S., Caffrey, A., Gale-Grant, O., et al. (2014). Mental health-related stigma in health care and mental health-care settings. The Lancet Psychiatry,1(6), 467–482. https://doi.org/10.1016/S2215-0366(14)00023-6.
Horsfall, J., Cleary, M., & Hunt, G. E. (2010). Stigma in mental health: Clients and professionals. Issues in Mental Health Nursing,31(7), 450–455. https://doi.org/10.3109/01612840903537167.
Jorm, A. F., Reavley, N. J., & Ross, A. M. (2012). Belief in the dangerousness of people with mental disorders: A review. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry,46(11), 1029–1045. https://doi.org/10.1177/0004867412442406.
Lakin, J. R., Block, S. D., Billings, J. A., Koritsanszky, L. A., Cunningham, R., Wichmann, L., et al. (2016). Improving communication about serious illness in primary care: A review. JAMA Internal Medicine,176(9), 1380–1387. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.3212.
Lam, T. P., Lam, K. F., Lam, E. W., & Ku, Y. S. (2013). Attitudes of primary care physicians towards patients with mental illness in Hong Kong. Asia-Pacific Psychiatry,5(1), E19–E28. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1758-5872.2012.00208.x.
Latoo, J., Mistry, M., & Dunne, F. J. (2013). Physical morbidity and mortality in people with mental illness. British Journal of Medical Practitioners,6(3), a621.
Leucht, S., Burkard, T., Henderson, J., Maj, M., & Sartorius, N. (2007). Physical illness and schizophrenia: A review of the literature. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica,116(5), 317–333. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1600-0447.2007.01095.x.
Lien, Y. J., & Kao, Y. C. (2019). Public beliefs and attitudes toward schizophrenia and depression in Taiwan: A nationwide survey. Psychiatry Research,273, 435–442. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psychres.2019.01.062.
Magliano, L., & Marassi, R. (2018). "Schizophrenia" and "psychosis" in Italian national newspapers: Do these terms convey different messages? Schizophrenia Research,197, 611–612. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.schres.2018.02.021.
Magliano, L., Read, J., Sagliocchi, A., Oliviero, N., D'Ambrosio, A., Campitiello, F., et al. (2014). "Social dangerousness and incurability in schizophrenia": Results of an educational intervention for medical and psychology students. Psychiatry Research,219(3), 457–463. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psychres.2014.06.002.
Magliano, L., Strino, A., Punzo, R., Acone, R., Affuso, G., & Read, J. (2017a). Effects of the diagnostic label 'schizophrenia', actively used or passively accepted, on general practitioners' views of this disorder. International Journal of Social Psychiatry,63(3), 224–234. https://doi.org/10.1177/0020764017695353.
Magliano, L., Read, J., & Affuso, G. (2017b). Predictors of staff attitudes toward schizophrenia treatments. Psychiatric Services,68(12), 1321. https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.ps.201700257.
Magliano, L., Schioppa, G., Costanzo, R., Petrillo, M., & Read, J. (2017c). The opinions of italian psychology students about people diagnosed with depression and Schizophrenia: A comparative study. Journal of Psychosocial Rehabilitation and Mental Health,4(2), 147–157. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40737-017-0087-8.
Mather, B., Roche, M., & Duffield, C. (2014). Disparities in treatment of people with mental disorder in non-psychiatric hospitals: A review of the literature. Archives of Psychiatric Nursing,28(2), 80–86. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apnu.2013.10.009.
Nordt, C., Rössler, W., & Lauber, C. (2006). Attitudes of mental health professionals toward people with schizophrenia and major depression. Schizophrenia Bulletin,32(4), 709–714. https://doi.org/10.1093/schbul/sbj065.
Pescosolido, B. A., Medina, T. R., Martin, J. K., & Long, J. S. (2013). The "backbone" of stigma: Identifying the global core of public prejudice associated with mental illness. American Journal of Public Health,103(5), 853–860. https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2012.301147.
Reavley, N. J., Mackinnon, A. J., Morgan, A. J., & Jorm, A. F. (2014). Stigmatising attitudes towards people with mental disorders: A comparison of Australian health professionals with the general community. Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry,48(5), 433–441. https://doi.org/10.1177/0004867413500351.
Schomerus, G., Matschinger, H., & Angermeyer, M. C. (2013). Continuum beliefs and stigmatizing attitudes towards persons with schizophrenia, depression and alcohol dependence. Psychiatry Research,209(3), 665–669. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psychres.2013.02.006.
Sullivan, G., Mittal, D., Reaves, C. M., Haynes, T. F., Han, X., Mukherjee, S., et al. (2015). Influence of schizophrenia diagnosis on providers' practice decisions. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry,76, 1068–1074. https://doi.org/10.4088/JCP.14m09465.
Thornicroft, G. (2011). Physical health disparities and mental illness: The scandal of premature mortality. The British Journal of Psychiatry,199(6), 441–442. https://doi.org/10.1192/bjp.bp.111.092718.
Thornicroft, G., Rose, D., & Kassam, A. (2007). Discrimination in health care against people with mental illness. International Review of Psychiatry,19(2), 113–122. https://doi.org/10.1080/09540260701278937.
Uçok, A., Soygür, H., Atakli, C., Kuscu, K., Sartorius, N., Duman, Z. C., et al. (2006). The impact of antistigma education on the attitudes of general practitioners regarding schizophrenia. Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences,60(4), 439–443. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1440-1819.2006.01529.x.
van Nieuwenhuizen, A., Henderson, C., Kassam, A., Graham, T., Murray, J., Howard, L. M., et al. (2013). Emergency department staff views and experiences on diagnostic overshadowing related to people with mental illness. Epidemiology and Psychiatric Sciences,22(3), 255–262. https://doi.org/10.1017/S2045796012000571.
Vancampfort, D., Rosenbaum, S., Ward, P. B., & Stubbs, B. (2015). Exercise improves cardiorespiratory fitness in people with schizophrenia: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Schizophrenia Research,169(1–3), 453–457. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.schres.2015.09.029.
Welch, L. C., Litman, H. J., Borba, C. P., Vincenzi, B., & Henderson, D. C. (2015). Does a physician's attitude toward a patient with mental illness affect clinical management of diabetes? Results from a mixed-method study. Health Services Research,50(4), 998–1020. https://doi.org/10.1111/1475-6773.12267.
Wood, L., Birtel, M., Alsawy, S., Pyle, M., & Morrison, A. (2014). Public perceptions of stigma towards people with schizophrenia, depression and anxiety. Psychiatry Research,220(12), 604–608. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psychres.2014.07.012.
The authors thank the 211 NPMS for giving us their time.
Conflict of interest
All authors stated that they have no conflict of interest.
The study was supported by a Grant from the University of Campania “Luigi Vanvitelli”, Caserta, Italy (approval no. 6, 17/04/2017).
Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
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.
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.
About this article
Cite this article
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
- Community care
- Health professionals