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Stigmatization of severe mental illness in India: Against the simple industrialization hypothesis

Jadhav, S; Littlewood, R; Ryder, AG; Chakraborty, A; Jain, S; Barua, M; (2007) Stigmatization of severe mental illness in India: Against the simple industrialization hypothesis. Indian Journal of Psychiatry , 49 (3) 189 - 194. Gold open access


Background Major international studies on the course and outcome of schizophrenia suggest a better prognosis in rural societies and in low income nations. Industrialisation is thought to result in increased stigma for mental illness, which in turn is thought to worsen prognosis. The lack of an ethnographically derived and cross-culturally valid measure of stigma has however hampered investigation. The present study deploys such a scale, and examines stigmatising attitudes towards the severe mentally ill among rural and urban community-dwellers in India. Aim To test the hypothesis that there are fewer stigmatising attitudes towards the mentally ill amongst rural compared to urban community-dwellers in India. Method An ethnographically derived and vignette-based stigmatisation scale was administered to a general community sample comprising two rural and one urban site in India. Responses were analysed using univariate and multivariate statistical methods. Result Rural Indians showed significantly higher stigma scores, especially those with a manual occupation. The overall pattern of differences between rural and urban samples suggests that the former deploy a punitive model towards the severely mentally ill while the urban group expressed a liberal view of severe mental illness. Urban Indians showed a strong link between stigma and not wishing to work with a mentally ill individual, whereas no such link existed for rural Indians. Conclusion This is the first study, using an ethnographically derived stigmatisation scale, to report increased stigma amongst a rural Indian population. Findings from this study do not fully support the industrialisation hypothesis to explain better outcome of severe mental illness in low income nations. The lack of a link between stigma and work attitudes may partly explain this phenomena.

Type: Article
Title: Stigmatization of severe mental illness in India: Against the simple industrialization hypothesis
Open access status: An open access publication
Keywords: Ethnography, industrialization hypothesis, rural India, severe mental illness, stigma, ethnography, rural india
UCL classification: UCL > School of Arts and Social Sciences > Faculty of Social and Historical Sciences > Anthropology
UCL > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Division of Psychiatry
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/136509
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