Get Alert
Please Wait... Processing your request... Please Wait.
You must sign in to sign-up for alerts.

Please confirm that your email address is correct, so you can successfully receive this alert.

Brief Reports   |    
Parents’ Stigmatizing Attitudes Toward Psychiatric Labels for ADHD and Depression
Jeneva L. Ohan, Ph.D.; Troy A. W. Visser, Ph.D.; Rachael G. Moss, M.Psych.; Nicholas B. Allen, Ph.D.
Psychiatric Services 2013; doi: 10.1176/appi.ps.201200578
View Author and Article Information

Dr. Ohan and Dr. Visser are with the School of Psychology, University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Hwy., Crawley, Western Australia 6009, Australia (e-mail: jeneva.ohan@uwa.edu.au). Ms. Moss is with the School of Psychology and Counseling, Queensland University of Technology, Kelvin Grove, Queensland, Australia. Dr. Allen is with the Department of Psychology, ORYGEN Research Centre, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, Australia.

Copyright © 2013 by the American Psychiatric Association


Objective  There is concern that diagnostic labels for psychiatric disorders may invoke damaging stigma, especially for children. This study compared parents’ stigma toward children with the symptoms of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or depression versus the same symptoms plus a psychiatric label.

Methods  Parents (N=225) rated their stereotypes, prejudice, and social distance toward vignettes of children with a developmentally typical range of behaviors, symptoms that met DSM-IV-TR criteria for ADHD or depression, and the same symptoms plus a label of ADHD or depression.

Results  Children described as having symptoms only were more stigmatized than children with typical behaviors (d=.97–2.69). Adding a diagnostic label resulted in significant but small increases in stigma (d=.12–.23).

Conclusions  Parents highly stigmatized children with psychiatric problems, but adding a diagnostic label made only a small contribution to worsening the stigma. The benefits of seeking psychiatric services—accessing treatment and providing validation—may outweigh fears of labeling.

Abstract Teaser
Figures in this Article

Your Session has timed out. Please sign back in to continue.
Sign In Your Session has timed out. Please sign back in to continue.
Sign In to Access Full Content
Sign in via Athens (What is this?)
Athens is a service for single sign-on which enables access to all of an institution's subscriptions on- or off-site.
Not a subscriber?

Subscribe Now/Learn More

PsychiatryOnline subscription options offer access to the DSM-5 library, books, journals, CME, and patient resources. This all-in-one virtual library provides psychiatrists and mental health professionals with key resources for diagnosis, treatment, research, and professional development.

Need more help? PsychiatryOnline Customer Service may be reached by emailing PsychiatryOnline@psych.org or by calling 800-368-5777 (in the U.S.) or 703-907-7322 (outside the U.S.).

Anchor for Jump
Table 1Ratings of stigma by 225 parents, by type of vignettea
Table Footer Note

a All subscales have a possible range of 1 to 7, with higher numbers representing more stigma.



Sayal  K;  Tischler  V;  Coope  C  et al:  Parental help-seeking in primary care for child and adolescent mental health concerns: qualitative study.  British Journal of Psychiatry 197:476–481, 2010
[CrossRef] | [PubMed]
Corrigan  PW:  How stigma interferes with mental health care.  American Psychologist 59:614–625, 2004
[CrossRef] | [PubMed]
Link  BG;  Phelan  JC:  Stigma and its public health implications.  Lancet 367:528–529, 2006
[CrossRef] | [PubMed]
Probst  B:  When the Labels Don’t Fit: A New Approach to Raising a Challenging Child .  New York,  Three Rivers, 2008
Shannon  SM:  Please Don’t Label My Child .  New York,  Rodale, 2007
Clarke  D;  Winsor  J:  Perceptions and needs of parents during a young adult’s first psychiatric hospitalization: “We’re all on this little island and we’re going to drown real soon”.  Issues in Mental Health Nursing 31:242–247, 2010
[CrossRef] | [PubMed]
Heflinger  CA;  Hinshaw  SP:  Stigma in child and adolescent mental health services research: understanding professional and institutional stigmatization of youth with mental health problems and their families.  Administration, Policy, and Mental Health 37:61–70, 2010
Goffman  E:  Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity .  New Jersey,  Prentice Hall, 1963
Corrigan  PW:  Mental health stigma as social attribution: implications for research methods and attitude change.  Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice 7:48–67, 2000
Martin  JK;  Pescosolido  BA;  Olafsdottir  S  et al:  The construction of fear: Americans’ preferences for social distance from children and adolescents with mental health problems.  Journal of Health and Social Behavior 48:50–67, 2007
[CrossRef] | [PubMed]
Pescosolido  BA;  Fettes  DL;  Martin  JK  et al:  Perceived dangerousness of children with mental health problems and support for coerced treatment.  Psychiatric Services 58:619–625, 2007
[CrossRef] | [PubMed]
Jorm  AF;  Wright  A:  Influences on young people’s stigmatising attitudes towards peers with mental disorders: national survey of young Australians and their parents.  British Journal of Psychiatry 192:144–149, 2008
[CrossRef] | [PubMed]
 Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders , 4th ed, text revision.  Washington, DC,  American Psychiatric Association, 2004
Macrae  CN;  Bodenhausen  GV;  Milne  AB  et al:  On the activation of social stereotypes: the moderating role of processing objectives.  Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 33:471–489, 1997
Hinshaw  SP;  Stier  A:  Stigma as related to mental disorders.  Annual Review of Clinical Psychology 4:367–393, 2008
[CrossRef] | [PubMed]
References Container

CME Activity

There is currently no quiz available for this resource. Please click here to go to the CME page to find another.
Submit a Comments
Please read the other comments before you post yours. Contributors must reveal any conflict of interest.
Comments are moderated and will appear on the site at the discertion of APA editorial staff.

* = Required Field
(if multiple authors, separate names by comma)
Example: John Doe

Related Content
Dulcan's Textbook of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry > Chapter 63.  >
Dulcan's Textbook of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry > Chapter 16.  >
Gabbard's Treatments of Psychiatric Disorders, 4th Edition > Chapter 1.  >
Gabbard's Treatments of Psychiatric Disorders, 4th Edition > Chapter 7.  >
Dulcan's Textbook of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry > Chapter 54.  >
Topic Collections
Psychiatric News
APA Guidelines
PubMed Articles