ERIC Number: ED243012
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1983-Aug
Reference Count: 0
A Qualitative Study of Attitudes toward Mental Illness: Implications for Public Education.
Bissland, James H.; Munger, Richard
Efforts to foster mental health care in society have always been hampered by the stigma attached to mental illness. To identify differential patterns of attitude hierarchies among people who live in or provide mental health services in a typical urban area, 54 adults participated in a Q methodology study of their attitudes toward mental illness. The subjects were 18 to 55 years of age and over, and had educational backgrounds from non-high school degrees to college graduates; 26 were community mental health center professionals from the Toledo, Ohio area. In a stepwise progression subjects sorted statement cards into rank order patterns (Q sorts) which were then factor analyzed into clusters of persons (Q types) according to the correlates of their card sorting behavior. These new empirically derived models were then compared with theoretical models held by mental health professionals. An analysis of the results identified two archetypal models of opinion held by two different age groups: pessimistic egalitarians and optimistic environmentalists. Pessimistic egalitarians were found to be significantly younger and more accepting of a medical model of mental illness, in which all races and classes are presumed to be equally at risk. Optimistic environmentalists tended to tie mental illness to socio-cultural problems such as poverty and discrimination. The egalitarians were also much more likely than the environmentalists to believe that most people hold a stereotypical view of the mentally ill as dirty, dangerous, and unpredictable; the environmentalists were more hopeful about the attitudes of their fellow man. The findings point out the complexities in the task of educating the community for involvement and support for community mental health programs. (Tables presenting residents' and professionals' Q sorts and Q types are appended.) (Author/BL)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: Ohio State Dept. of Health, Columbus.
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Ohio; Qualitative Studies
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association (91st, Anaheim, CA, August 26-30, 1983).