Abstract

Background There is concern about the stigma of mental illness, but it is difficult to measure stigma consistently.

Aims To develop a standardised instrument to measure the stigma of mental illness.

Method We used qualitative data from interviews with mental health service users to develop a pilot scale with 42 items. We recruited 193 service users in order to standardise the scale. Of these, 93 were asked to complete the questionnaire twice, 2 weeks apart, of whom 60 (65%) did so. Items with a test–retest reliability kappa coefficient of 0.4 or greater were retained and subjected to common factor analysis.

Results The final 28-item stigma scale has a three-factor structure: the first concerns discrimination, the second disclosure and the third potential positive aspects of mental illness. Stigma scale scores were negatively correlated with global self-esteem.

Conclusions This self-report questionnaire, which can be completed in 5–10 min, may help us understand more about the role of stigma of psychiatric illness in research and clinical settings.

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