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An online intervention using information on the mental health-mental illness continuum to reduce stigma

  • G. Schomerus (a1) (a2), M.C. Angermeyer (a3) (a4), S.E. Baumeister (a5) (a6), S. Stolzenburg (a1) (a2), B.G. Link (a7) (a8) and J.C. Phelan (a7)...



A core component of stigma is being set apart as a distinct, dichotomously different kind of person. We examine whether information on a continuum from mental health to mental illness reduces stigma.


Online survey experiment in a quota sample matching the German population for age, gender and region (n = 1679). Participants randomly received information on either (1) a continuum, (2) a strict dichotomy of mental health and mental illness, or (3) no information. We elicited continuity beliefs and stigma toward a person with schizophrenia or depression.


The continuum intervention decreased perceived difference by 0.19 standard deviations (SD, P < 0.001) and increased social acceptance by 0.18 SD (P = 0.003) compared to the no-text condition. These effects were partially mediated by continuity beliefs (proportion mediated, 25% and 26%), which increased by 0.19 SD (P < 0.001). The dichotomy intervention, in turn, decreased continuity beliefs and increased notions of difference, but did not affect social acceptance.


Attitudes towards a person with mental illness can be improved by providing information on a mental health-mental illness continuum.


Corresponding author

*Corresponding author. Klinik und Poliklinik für Psychiatrie, Universitätsmedizin Greifswald, Rostocker Chaussee 70, 18437 Stalsund, Germany. Tel.: +49 3831 452109; fax: +49 3831 452105. E-mail address: (G. Schomerus).


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An online intervention using information on the mental health-mental illness continuum to reduce stigma

  • G. Schomerus (a1) (a2), M.C. Angermeyer (a3) (a4), S.E. Baumeister (a5) (a6), S. Stolzenburg (a1) (a2), B.G. Link (a7) (a8) and J.C. Phelan (a7)...


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An online intervention using information on the mental health-mental illness continuum to reduce stigma

  • G. Schomerus (a1) (a2), M.C. Angermeyer (a3) (a4), S.E. Baumeister (a5) (a6), S. Stolzenburg (a1) (a2), B.G. Link (a7) (a8) and J.C. Phelan (a7)...
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