PLoS One. 2022 Jun 10;17(6):e0269802. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0269802. eCollection 2022.
OBJECTIVE: Stigma towards people with mental health problems is a growing issue across the world, to which healthcare providers might contribute. The aim of the present study was to explore psychiatrists’ attitudes towards their patients and link them to psychosocial and professional factors.
METHODS: An online questionnaire was used to approach the in- and outpatient psychiatric services across Hungary. A total of 211 trainees and specialists in adult and child psychiatry participated in our study. Their overall stigmatizing attitudes were measured, with focus on attitude, disclosure and help-seeking, and social distance dimensions by using the self-report Opening Minds Stigma Scale for Health Care Providers (OMS-HC). Multiple linear regression analyses were performed to elucidate the dimensions of stigma and its association with sociodemographic, professional and personal traits.
RESULTS: Stigmatizing attitudes of close colleagues towards patients were statistically significant predictors of higher scores on the attitude [B = 0.235 (0.168-0.858), p = 0.004], the disclosure and help-seeking subscales [B = 0.169 (0.038-0.908), p = 0.033], and the total score of the OMS-HC [B = 0.191 (0.188-1.843), p = 0.016]. Psychiatrists who had already sought help for their own problems had lower scores on the disclosure and help-seeking subscale [B = 0.202 (0.248-1.925), p = 0.011]. The overall stigmatizing attitude was predicted by the openness to participate in case discussion, supervision or Balint groups [B = 0.166 (0.178-5.886), p = 0.037] besides the more favorable attitudes of their psychiatrist colleagues [B = 0.191 (0.188-1.843), p = 0.016].
CONCLUSIONS: The favorable attitudes of psychiatrists are associated with their own experiences with any kind of psychiatric condition, previous help-seeking behavior and the opportunity to work together with fellow psychiatrists, whose attitudes are less stigmatizing. The perception of fellow colleagues’ attitudes towards patients and the openness to case discussion, supervision and Balint groups were the main two factors that affected the overall attitudes towards patients; therefore, these should be considered when tailoring anti-stigma interventions for psychiatrists.