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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

Abstract

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.

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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.

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