Relationship between stressful life events, stigma and life satisfaction with the willingness of disclosure of psychotic illness : A community study in Hong Kong

Yi Nam SUEN, Kit Wa Sherry CHAN*, Ling Tsz Theresa SIU, Lik Hang Lincoln LO, Charlton CHEUNG, Lai Ming Christy HUI, Ho Ming Edwin LEE, Wing Chung CHANG, Pui Sze WONG, Yu Hai Eric CHEN

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Aim: The preference of and potential barriers to disclosure of psychotic illness vary across cultures. Studying its patterns and correlates can guide the design of future culture-specific intervention and public education approaches to improve willingness to disclose and thereby reducing the duration of untreated psychosis (DUP). 

Methods: A population-based, random telephone survey was conducted with a total of 1514 respondents in Hong Kong in January 2018. Cross-sectional data on willingness to disclose psychotic illness, life satisfaction, stigmatizing attitude and recent experience of stressful life events (SLEs) were analysed against age and gender using structural equation modelling (SEM). 

Results: Unwillingness to disclose to anyone was reported by 12% of the participants. Family was reported as the preferred disclosure candidate by most respondents. Our model, which showed a good fit to the data demonstrated that stigmatizing attitude and life satisfaction were directly associated with willingness to disclose illness. Younger age was correlated with more recent experience of SLEs, lower life satisfaction and less willingness to disclose illness. Women's disclosure willingness was positively associated with their life satisfaction, which was sensitive to recent exposure to single SLE. In contrast, men's was negatively associated with their stigmatizing attitude, which increased significantly upon exposure to two or more recent SLEs. 

Conclusion: Encouraging the public to help their family to seek treatment should be a focal point of a successful mental health public education campaign. Cultural-specific and integrated interventions should be developed targeting the vulnerable groups including people with high recent life stress, particularly woman and those with younger age.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)686-696
Number of pages11
JournalEarly Intervention in Psychiatry
Issue number3
Early online date24 Jun 2020
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank the Public Opinion Programme of the University of Hong Kong for supporting the field work of the telephone survey as well as all respondents.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd


  • help-seeking
  • illness disclosure
  • psychosis
  • stigma
  • stressful life event


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