Individual and Neighborhood Predictors of Mental Illness Stigma in New York State

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Although studies indicate that stigmatizing attitudes persist in the general public, individual- and neighborhood-level factors that are associated with increased likelihood of holding stigmatizing attitudes have been seldom studied. This study examined the demographic and neighborhood correlates of stigmatizing attitudes among community members in New York State. Data were drawn from the Pulse of New York State Survey, a random-digit-dial survey of 806 New York State residents. Variables studied included demographic information, the Attitudes Toward Mental Illness Scale, and neighborhood disadvantage at the zip code level (using data on community characteristics from the 2000 and 2010 Census). Higher levels of completed education predicted less stigmatizing attitudes. Higher levels of neighborhood disadvantage predicted more stigmatizing attitudes with the 2000 Census, and obtained marginal significance within the 2010 Census. Political affiliation demonstrated the strongest relationship, with more conservative ideology predicting more stigmatizing attitudes. Results highlight the need to consider political affiliation and neighborhood disadvantage as target areas when planning interventions for reducing mental illness stigma.

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