Biomedical accounts of mental disorders are increasingly prevalent but can yield pessimism about prognosis and fail to reduce stigma. The authors tested whether information emphasizing the treatability of mental disorders could reduce stigma by contradicting the prognostic pessimism associated with biological attributions.
A total of 249 participants recruited online read vignettes about two individuals—one with schizophrenia and one with borderline personality disorder. The vignettes attributed the disorders to biological or nonbiological causes and did or did not include information about treatment. Participants' attitudes toward the individual were assessed with social distance scales.
Participants who received information about treatment had more positive attitudes toward the individual described in the vignette if the disorder was attributed to a biological cause, but treatment information had no such effect if the disorder was attributed to a nonbiological cause.
Combining biomedical accounts of psychopathology with information about treatment appears to be an effective destigmatization approach. (Psychiatric Services 63:496–499, 2012; doi: 10.1176/appi.ps.201100265)