Comparing stigmatising attitudes towards people with substance use disorders between the general public, GPs, mental health and addiction specialists and clients

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Abstract

Background:
Substance use disorders (SUDs) are among the most severely stigmatised conditions; however, little is known about the nature of these stigmatising attitudes.
Aims:
To assess and compare stigmatising attitudes towards persons with SUDs among different stakeholders: general public, general practitioners (GPs), mental health and addiction specialists, and clients in treatment for substance abuse.
Methods:
Cross-sectional study (N  = 3,326) in which stereotypical beliefs, attribution beliefs (e.g. perceptions about controllability and responsibility for having an addiction), social distance and expectations about rehabilitation opportunities for individuals with substance use disorders were assessed and compared between stakeholders.
Results:
Individuals with substance use disorders elicited great social distance across all stakeholders. Stereotypical beliefs were not different between stakeholders, whereas attribution beliefs were more diverse. Considering social distance and expectations about rehabilitation opportunities, the general public was most pessimistic, followed by GPs, mental health and addiction specialists, and clients. Stereotypical and attribution beliefs, as well as age, gender and socially desirable answering, were not associated with social distance across all stakeholders.
Conclusion:
The general public and GPs expressed more social distance and were more negative in their expectations about rehabilitation opportunities, compared to mental health and addiction specialists and clients. Although stigmatising attitudes were prevalent across all groups, no striking differences were found between stakeholders.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)539-549
JournalInternational Journal of Social Psychiatry
Volume61
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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