Targeting Stigma of Mental Illness Among Primary Care Providers: Findings From a Pilot Feasibility Study

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Psychiatry Research


Stigmatizing attitudes among primary care (PC) providers potentially contribute to poor health outcomes for individuals with serious mental illness (SMI). In this pilot study, our primary aim is to test the feasibility, and preliminary implementation of two interventions (contact and education) to help change provider attitudes and behavior. Participants were 39 primary care providers from two Veterans Affairs medical centers with 19 randomized to the contact intervention and 20 to the education intervention. Both interventions were delivered in a group setting face-to-face. Stigmatizing attitudes were measured using Opening Minds Scale for Health Care Providers, Attribution Questionnaire and Social Distance Scale at baseline, one month and three months. Data were analyzed using repeated measures analysis of variance (ANOVA). Most providers were white, female, nurses, and older than age 50. For each of the three measures of stigmatizing attitudes there was no statistically significant treatment-by-time interaction rejecting our hypothesis that contact intervention will result in significantly greater reduction in stigmatizing attitudes. Qualitative analysis suggests that the contact intervention was perceived as much needed. This study informs future research to reduce provider stigma. Our intervention was modeled on interventions designed for the general public; different interventions may be needed for providers.



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Bias, Contact, Disparities, Education, Healthcare, Intervention, Physician