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Anticipated and experienced discrimination amongst people with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depressive disorder: a cross sectional study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages8
JournalBMC Psychiatry
Issue number157
Published29 May 2014

King's Authors


Background: The unfair treatment of individuals with severe mental illness has been linked to poorer physical and mental health outcomes. Additionally, anticipation of discrimination may lead some individuals to avoid participation in particular life areas, leading to greater isolation and social marginalisation. This study aimed to establish the levels and clinical and socio-demographic associations of anticipated and experienced discrimination amongst those diagnosed with a schizophrenia and comparator severe mental illnesses (bipolar and major depressive disorders).

Methods: This study was a cross-sectional analysis of anticipated and experienced discrimination from 202 individuals in South London (47% with schizophrenia, 32% with depression and 20% with bipolar disorder).

Results: 93% of the sample anticipated discrimination and 87% of participants had experienced discrimination in at least one area of life in the previous year. There was a significant association between the anticipation and the experience of discrimination. Higher levels of experienced discrimination were reported by those of a mixed ethnicity, and those with higher levels of education. Women anticipated more discrimination than men. Neither diagnosis nor levels of functioning were associated with the extent of discrimination. Clinical symptoms of anxiety, depression and suspiciousness were associated with more experienced and anticipated discrimination respectively.

Conclusions: The unfair treatment of individuals with severe mental illnesses remains unacceptably common. Population level interventions are needed to reduce levels of discrimination and to safeguard individuals. Interventions are also required to assist those with severe mental illness to reduce internalised stigma and social avoidance.

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