Cross-sectional study of mental health related knowledge and attitudes among care assistant workers in Guangzhou, China

Jie Li*, Xiao Ling Duan, Hua Qing Zhong, Wen Chen, Sara Evans‑Lacko, Graham Thornicroft

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Care assistant workers (CAWs) are a part of a new pattern of mental health care providers in China and play a significant role in bridging the human resource shortage. CAWs in China mainly include community cadres, community mental health staff, and community policemen. The mental health related knowledge and attitudes of CAWs could influence their mental health care delivery. This study aimed to assess mental health related knowledge and attitudes of CAWs in Guangzhou, China. Methods: In November 2017, a study was conducted among 381 CAWs from four districts of Guangzhou, China. Participants were assessed using the Perceived Devaluation and Discrimination Scale (PDD), the Mental Health Knowledge Schedule (MAKS), and the Mental illness: Clinicians’ Attitudes (MICA) Scale. Data were analyzed by descriptive statistics, ANOVA, Bonferroni corrections and multivariable linear regression. Results: The mean scores (standard deviation) of PDD, MAKS and MICA were 36.45 (6.54), 22.72 (2.56), and 51.67 (7.88), respectively. Univariate analyses showed that the older CAWs, community policemen and those who were less willing to deliver care to people with mental illness had significant higher MICA scores when compared with other staff (P < 0.001). Multivariable linear regression showed that after controlling for key variables, care willingness and PDD total score were positively associated with the MICA total score (all P < 0.05), while attitudes on additional items were significant negatively with the MICA total score (all P < 0.01). Conclusion: These findings suggest negative attitudes towards people with mental disorders among CAWs are common, especially among older staff. Community policemen suggest that they applied stereotypes of “violent mentally ill” people to all people they deal with who have mental disorders. The results also indicate human rights are being paid some attention to now, but need to be further continually improved in the future. Strategies for improving such negative attitudes and reducing the perceived stigma and discrimination should be carried out towards particular staff groups in an anti-stigma programme in Guangzhou, China.

Original languageEnglish
Article number17
JournalInternational Journal of Mental Health Systems
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


  • Care assistant workers
  • Human rights
  • Knowledge and attitudes
  • Low- and middle-income countries
  • Severe mental disorders
  • Stigma and discrimination


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