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Public knowledge, attitudes, social distance and reporting contact with people with mental illness 2009-2017

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2717-2726
JournalPsychological Medicine
Issue number16
Early online date20 Dec 2018
Accepted/In press15 Nov 2018
E-pub ahead of print20 Dec 2018
PublishedDec 2019


King's Authors


Background: Our aim was to investigate patterns of change in public knowledge, attitudes, desire for social distance and reporting having contact with people with mental health problems in England during the Time to Change (TTC) programme to reduce stigma and discrimination 2009-2017.

Methods: Using data from an annual face-to-face survey of a nationally representative quota sample of adults, we evaluated longitudinal trends of the outcome measures with regression analyses and made assumptions on the basis of a simple random sample. We tested interactions between year and demographic subgroups.

Results: There were improvements in all outcomes in 2017 compared to baseline measures (2008 or 2009). Reported in standard deviation units (95% CI), the improvement for knowledge was 0·17 (0·10, 0·23); for attitudes 0·25 (0·18, 0·31); and for social distance 0·29 (0·23, 0·35). A higher likelihood of reporting contact was also associated with most recent survey year (OR 1·47, 95% CI 1·27, 1·71). Statistically significant interactions between year and region of England suggest greatest improvements in attitudes and intended behaviour in London, where both outcomes were significantly worse in the early years of the survey. However, for attitudes, this interaction was only significant among women. Other significant interactions suggest that attitudes improved most in the target age group (25-44).

Conclusions: The results provide support for the effectiveness of TTC across demographic groups. However, other societal changes may influence the results, such as the increasing prevalence of common mental disorder in young women.

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