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Gender differences in public beliefs and attitudes about mental disorder in western countries: A systematic review of population studies

  • A. Holzinger (a1), F. Floris (a2), G. Schomerus (a3), M. G. Carta (a2) and M. C. Angermeyer (a2) (a4)...

Abstract

Aims.

While quite a number of theories and hypotheses about gender differences in public beliefs and attitudes about mental illness have been proposed, the empirical evidence, particularly evidence based on population studies, is rather scarce.

Methods.

A systematic review of population-based studies providing information on gender differences in beliefs about mental disorders and attitudes towards the mentally ill was carried out.

Results.

While both genders are no different in their willingness to seek informal help for mental illness, women seem more ready to recommend professional help than men. They also evaluate treatment outcomes more favourably. Women are more likely to endorse psychosocial conceptualizations of mental illness than men, and, in consequence, are more in favour of psychotherapy. With a few exceptions, women do not seem to display more favourable attitudes than men towards people with mental disorder. Female patients seem to be rejected by the public less than male patients.

Conclusions.

Our review suggests that gender matters in public beliefs and attitudes about mental illness. Some theoretical assumptions are supported by empirical findings, others not. However, as evidence is rather scarce, further studies testing theory-driven hypotheses are needed.

Copyright

Corresponding author

*Address for correspondence: Professor Dr M. C. Angermeyer, Center for Public Mental Health, 3482 Gösing am Wagram, Austria. (Email: angermeyer@aon.at)

References

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Gender differences in public beliefs and attitudes about mental disorder in western countries: A systematic review of population studies

  • A. Holzinger (a1), F. Floris (a2), G. Schomerus (a3), M. G. Carta (a2) and M. C. Angermeyer (a2) (a4)...

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