Stigma of Mental Illness: Social Distancing Attitudes among Registered Nurses in Australia


Background: Stigma of mental illness is often examined in social psychology and psychiatric rehabilitation using attitude studies. Participants of these studies are among health professionals and general public members. A common measure of stigma is using validated scale which measures the opinion on mental illness. Method: A cross-sectional survey was presented to 208 registered nurses. Principal component analyses (with oblique rotation) were used to identify underlying dimensionality in the correlations of items for social distancing. Subscale score variations were analysed across nurse type and ethnicity to examine the discriminant validity of the subscale. Results: Principal component analysis (PCA) revealed one dimension accounting for 43.5% of the variations within items for social distancing. Developed as scale, termed Stigma towards Psychiatric Patients (STPP), reliability analysis indicated high internal consistency with respective alpha coefficient of 0.8. Chinese general nurses scored highest on social distancing than the other three groups: Chinese psychiatric nurses, Anglo general and Anglo psychiatric nurses. Conclusion: Psychometric evaluation of the Stigma Scale (STPP) suggests it is a reliable instrument for measuring social distancing attitudes towards mental illness. The effect of ethnicity on stigmatising attitudes is not entirely accounted for by exposure to people with mental illness.

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Ku, T. and Ha, M. (2015) Stigma of Mental Illness: Social Distancing Attitudes among Registered Nurses in Australia. Journal of Biosciences and Medicines, 3, 40-47. doi: 10.4236/jbm.2015.312007.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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