Stigma: Content analysis of the representation of people with personality disorder in the UK popular press, 2001–2012: Stigma: Personality Disorder in the Press

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Abstract

There is evidence that people with personality disorder are stigmatized within healthcare settings; however, little is known about the role that the media has played in the wider processes of stigmatization. This research examines the degree to which the popular press in the UK have established a link between personality disorder and homicide, and the impact this may have had on the processes of stigmatization. Using a content analysis approach, it was identified that there were 552 articles in the popular press, between 2001 and 2012, that made reference to personality disorder and 42% of those articles established a link with homicide. Comparison between two time periods, 2001–2006 and 2007–2012, identified that there was a significant reduction in the proportion of homicide articles (Pearson χ2 (5, n = 552) = 5.64, P > .05), however, the effect size of this change was only small. These findings suggest that the press may have contributed to the processes of stigmatization, and may have encouraged the general public to hold prejudicial attitudes towards people with a diagnosis of personality disorder.

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