Cross-sectional population based study ascertaining the characteristics of US rural adults with mental health concerns who perceived a stigma regarding mental health issues


Introduction: Mental health is an important component of overall health. Mental illness is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in the US and is associated with chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis. In the US, most people with mental health issues or disorders remain untreated. Epidemiological studies have identified rural residents as being at greater risk for health disparities; as a result, rural residents are a vulnerable population in terms of mental health and mental health care. Research has demonstrated that perceived stigma can be a significant barrier to rural residents seeking mental health care. This study examined the research question: What are the characteristics of US rural adults with mental health concerns who perceived stigma? Methods: 2007 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) data were analyzed using bivariate and multivariate techniques to answer the research question. 2007 BRFSS data were used because in that year non-institutionalized US adults in 37 states and territories were queried about their attitudes toward mental illness. BRFSS is a random digit telephone survey that uses a complex multi-stage sampling approach and subsequently a weighting factor is calculated for application to the data in order to ensure that they are representative of the US population based on the most recent census data. Only weighted data were analyzed. Results: Logistic regression analysis revealed that rural adults reporting mental health concerns who perceived stigma regarding mental health were more likely to be unemployed seeking work or not working and not seeking work, military veterans, or to have deferred medical care because of cost. They were also more likely to not have a health care provider and to rarely or never feel supported emotionally. Conclusions: Support systems may render people with mental health issues less vulnerable to perceiving stigma, thus assisting with removing stigma as a barrier to care. Pharmacist may play a role as support in communities, especially where access to health care providers may be limited.

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Pederson, K. , Lutfiyya, M. , Palombi, L. , Simmons, D. , Steenerson, D. , Hohman, K. and Huot, K. (2013) Cross-sectional population based study ascertaining the characteristics of US rural adults with mental health concerns who perceived a stigma regarding mental health issues. Health, 5, 695-702. doi: 10.4236/health.2013.54092.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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