Perceived Dangerousness as Related to Psychiatric Symptoms and Psychiatric Service Use - a Vignette Based Representative Population Survey
OPEN Scientific reports | 4 Apr 2017
JF Sowislo, F Gonet-Wirz, S Borgwardt, UE Lang and CG Huber
Perceptions of dangerousness are an influential component of mental health stigma and can be driven by the display of psychiatric symptoms and the use of psychiatric service institutions. Yet, no previous study compared symptoms and service use associated perceptions of dangerousness. Therefore, we conducted a representative survey (N = 2,207) in the canton of Basel-Stadt, Switzerland. Participants were asked to answer the perceived dangerousness scale with respect to a vignette that either depicted psychiatric symptoms of a fictitious character or a psychiatric service institution the fictitious character had been admitted to. Between the vignettes, type of symptoms, type of psychiatric service, dangerousness, and gender were systematically varied. Perceived dangerousness was significantly lower as related to psychiatric service use than related to psychiatric symptoms. Overall, symptoms of alcohol dependency, behavior endangering others, and male gender of the fictitious character tend to increase perceived dangerousness. Furthermore, being hospitalized in a psychiatric unit at a general hospital or the rater being familiar with psychiatric services tends to decrease perceived dangerousness. Effective anti-stigma initiatives should integrate education about dangerousness as well as methods to increase familiarity with psychiatry. Additionally, an integration of modern psychiatry in somato-medical care institutions might decrease stigmatization.
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