“Despite an increase in treatment seeking for mental health and substance use disorders in recent years, stigma surrounding these health conditions has remained constant over time. Stigma can be defined as an attribute, behavior, or condition, which is socially discrediting. The media portrayal of individuals with these conditions as unkempt, untreatable, and even violent has perpetuated stigma even though the biological basis for these illnesses is more readily recognized.
McGinty and colleagues used a vignette-based randomized experiment to address how different portrayals of persons with a mental health or substance use disorder can influence stigma-related outcomes in the following domains: desirability of social distance (e.g., willingness to work closely with a person with mental/illness or a drug addiction), perceptions about treatment effectiveness (e.g., level of agreement with “the treatment options for persons with mental illness/a drug addiction are effective at controlling symptoms”), willingness to discriminate (e.g., level of agreement with “landlords should be able to deny housing to a person with mental illness/a drug addiction”), and support for policies that can benefit persons with mental health or substance use disorders (e.g., favor or oppose “requiring insurance companies to offer benefits for the treatment of mental illness/drug addiction that are equivalent to benefits for other medical services”).
Respondents (N = 3940) to this nationally representative online survey were randomly assigned to read one of ten vignettes about Mary, a white college-educated woman. The choice of Mary’s demographic profile reflects the authors’ effort to decrease confounding as previous studies have shown people tend to have more negative attitudes against non-whites, men, and people with a high school education or less. The table below describes how Mary was portrayed in each of the ten vignettes.”
Source: RecoveryAnswers.org – April 1, 2015