Attitudes towards people with mental disorders: the psychometric characteristics of a Finnish questionnaire

Aromaa, Esa; Tolvanen, Asko; Tuulari, Jyrki; Wahlbeck, Kristian
February 2010
Social Psychiatry & Psychiatric Epidemiology;Feb2010, Vol. 45 Issue 2, p265
Academic Journal
The prevalence of mental disorders, especially depression, increasingly creates concern for our mental, social and economic well-being. The public has insufficient knowledge about mental disorders and their treatment. A stigma is attached to mental disorders, which has a multifaceted impact on the lives of patients and their families. A Finnish general population survey studied knowledge of and attitudes towards mental health problems. This study examines the background dimensions of the attitude items used in the survey. An eight-page health survey questionnaire with 16 items on attitudes to mental health and depression was sent to a randomly selected sample of 10,000 persons aged 15–80 years. The overall response rate was 55.2%. The data were submitted to a principal component analysis (PCA). Two components were extracted by means of this analysis and submitted to further reliability analyses as well as to a preliminary validity analysis. The PCA identified four components: (1) depression is a matter of will, (2) mental problems have negative consequences, (3) one should be careful with antidepressants and (4) you never recover from mental problems. The internal consistencies of the first two components were sufficient to build dimension scales for future analyses. The extracted components fit consistently with the leading stigma theories and earlier studies measuring public attitudes.


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