Stigma associated with schizophrenia: Cultural comparison of social distance in Japan and China

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Aims:The aim of the present study was to investigate social attitudes toward schizophrenia in Japan and China in view of social distance and knowledge of psychiatry, as well as sociocultural aspects.Methods:Two self-rating scales were used to compare social distance and knowledge regarding schizophrenia in 352 Japanese subjects and 347 Chinese subjects. The Social Distance Scale-Japanese version was used to measure social distance from schizophrenia subjects in Japan. This scale consists of eight questions graded using a 4-point Likert scale (0-3 points), with higher scores representing increased social distance. A translation of the SDSJ into Chinese was used to assess social distance in China. The Knowledge of Illness and Drugs Inventory was used to determine participant knowledge of mental illness and its treatment (medication) through 20 questions (responses are graded as correct or incorrect, with higher scores indicating greater knowledge). A Chinese version of this questionnaire was also created.Results:Total scores of both scales were significantly higher in Japanese subjects than in Chinese subjects.Conclusions:Social distance associated with schizophrenia is large in both Beijing and Fukuoka, but the features of social distance differ between countries. It is important to determine the features of stigma associated with schizophrenia and develop anti-stigma programs based on trans-cultural considerations.

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