Sociodemographic correlates of public stigma about mental illness : a population study on Hong Kong’s Chinese population

Lincoln Lik Hang LO, Yi Nam SUEN, Sherry Kit Wa CHAN*, Min Yi SUM, Cheung CHARLTON, Christy Lai Ming HUI, Edwin Ho Ming LEE, Wing Chung CHANG, Eric Yu Hai CHEN

*Corresponding author for this work

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

Abstract

Background: Individuals with psychiatric disorders are often unwilling to seek help or often follow treatment regimens, fearing public stigma. This study identified the sociodemographic correlates of public stigma while accounting for mental health literacy and life satisfaction. 

Methods: This study analysed data for 1514 individuals who participated in a population-based random telephone survey conducted in 2018. Sociodemographic characteristics included gender, age, education level, and occupation. Data on public stigma, mental health literacy, and life satisfaction were also collected. Multiple linear regression was conducted to examine the effects of sociodemographic characteristics on public stigma. A moderation analysis was performed to investigate the role of age and education in the relationship between mental health literacy and public stigma. 

Results: Sociodemographic characteristics, such as female gender, older age, lower education, and occupation (particularly retired and homemakers), were associated with a higher public stigma. The association between public stigma and mental health literacy was the most significant among individuals aged 50 years and above with lower education levels. 

Conclusions: This study showed that certain population subgroups, based on their sociodemographic profile, have a higher stigma about mental illnesses. Understanding the differential effects of sociodemographic factors on public stigma is imperative to developing effective anti-stigma campaigns.

Original languageEnglish
Article number274
JournalBMC Psychiatry
Volume21
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 29 May 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The work was supported by the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust as part of the Jockey Club Mental Wellness Project for Women.

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:
© 2021, The Author(s).

Keywords

  • Anti-stigma campaigns
  • Mental health literacy
  • Public stigma
  • Sociodemographic correlates

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