OPEN BJPsych bulletin | 21 Feb 2019
GL Passerello, JE Hazelwood and S Lawrie
Aims and methodSchizophrenia is a psychotic disorder that is stereotypically stigmatised as untreatable and associated with violence. Several authorities have suggested that changing the name, for example to psychosis, would reduce such stigmatisation. We aimed to compare attitudes to schizophrenia and psychosis on Twitter to see if psychosis was associated with less negative attitudes. Tweets containing the terms ‘schizophrenia’, ‘schizophrenic’, ‘psychosis’ or ‘psychotic’ were collected on www.twitter.com and were captured with NCapture. On NVivo, tweets were coded into categories based on user type, tweet content, attitude and stigma type by two independent raters. We compared the content and attitudes of tweets referring to schizophrenia/schizophrenic and psychosis/psychotic. RESULTS: A total of 1120 tweets referring to schizophrenia/schizophrenic and 1080 referring to psychosis/psychotic were identified over two 7-day periods; 424 original tweets for schizophrenia and 416 original tweets for psychosis were included in the analysis. Psychosis was significantly more commonly included in tweets expressing negative attitudes (n=131, 31.5%) than schizophrenia (n=41, 9.7%) (χ² = 237.03, P < 0.0001). Of the personal opinions or dyadic interactions, 125 (53.4%) in the psychosis data set were stigmatising, compared with 33 (24.6%) of those in the schizophrenia set (χ² = 44.65, P < 0.0001).Clinical implicationsThe terms psychosis/psychotic are associated with a significantly higher number of tweets with negative content than schizophrenia/schizophrenic. Together with other evidence, this suggests that changing the name of schizophrenia to psychosis will not reduce negative attitudes toward the condition.Declaration of interestS.L. has received personal fees from Otsuka and Sunovion, and personal and research fees from Janssen.
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