Psychiatric Quarterly

, Volume 87, Issue 1, pp 63–73 | Cite as

Cross-National Analysis of Beliefs and Attitude Toward Mental Illness Among Medical Professionals From Five Countries

  • Elina StefanovicsEmail author
  • Hongbo He
  • Angela Ofori-Atta
  • Maria Tavares Cavalcanti
  • Helio Rocha Neto
  • Victor Makanjuola
  • Adesuwa Ighodaro
  • Meaghan Leddy
  • Robert Rosenheck
Original Paper


This quantitative study sought to compare beliefs about the manifestation, causes and treatment of mental illness and attitudes toward people with mental illness among health professionals from five countries: the United States, Brazil, Ghana, Nigeria, and China. A total of 902 health professionals from the five countries were surveyed using a questionnaire addressing attitudes towards people with mental illness and beliefs about the causes of mental illness. Chi-square and analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) were used to compare age and gender of the samples. Confirmatory factor analysis was employed to confirm the structure and fit of the hypothesized model based on data from a previous study that identified four factors: socializing with people with mental illness (socializing), belief that people with mental illness should have normal roles in society (normalizing), non-belief in supernatural causes (witchcraft or curses), and belief in bio-psycho-social causes of mental illness (bio-psycho-social). Analysis of Covariance was used to compare four factor scores across countries adjusting for differences in age and gender. Scores on all four factors were highest among U.S. professionals. The Chinese sample showed lowest score on socializing and normalizing while the Nigerian and Ghanaian samples were lowest on non-belief in supernatural causes of mental illness. Responses from Brazil fell between those of the U.S. and the other countries. Although based on convenience samples of health professional robust differences in attitudes among health professionals between these five countries appear to reflect underlying socio-cultural differences affecting attitudes of professionals with the greater evidence of stigmatized attitudes in developing countries.


Attitudes to mental illness Stigma Mental health providers Cross-cultural research International comparison 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elina Stefanovics
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Hongbo He
    • 3
  • Angela Ofori-Atta
    • 4
  • Maria Tavares Cavalcanti
    • 5
  • Helio Rocha Neto
    • 5
  • Victor Makanjuola
    • 6
  • Adesuwa Ighodaro
    • 2
  • Meaghan Leddy
    • 1
  • Robert Rosenheck
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.VA New England Mental Illness Research and Education CenterVA Connecticut Healthcare System (116A-4)West HavenUSA
  2. 2.Yale Medical SchoolNew HavenUSA
  3. 3.Guangzhou Psychiatric HospitalGuangzhouChina
  4. 4.University of GhanaAccraGhana
  5. 5.Federal University, Rio de JaneiroRio de JaneiroBrazil
  6. 6.University College HospitalIbadanNigeria

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