Direct social contact interventions are known to reduce mental health stigma. Filmed social contact may be equally effective and have practical and cost advantages.
To compare the effectiveness of a DVD, a live intervention and a lecture control, in reducing stigma, testing the hypotheses that: (a) DVD and live interventions will be equally effective; and (b) the interventions with social contact (DVD/live) will be more effective than the lecture. Cost-effectiveness, process and acceptability are also assessed.
Student nurses were randomised to: (a) watch a DVD of service users/informal carers talking about their experiences, (b) watch a similar live presentation, or (c) attend a lecture. Primary outcomes were changes in attitudes (using the Mental Illness: Clinicians Attitudes Scale, MICA), emotional reactions (using the Emotional Reactions to Mental Illness Scale, ERMIS), intended proximity (using the Reported and Intended Behaviour Scale, RIBS), and knowledge (using the Social Contact Intended Learning Outcomes, SCILO), immediately after the intervention and at 4-month follow-up.
For the 216 participants, there were no differences between the DVD and live groups on MICA, ERMIS or RIBS scores. The DVD group had higher SCILO (knowledge) scores. The combined social contact group (DVD/live) had better MICA and RIBS scores than the lecture group, the latter difference maintained at 4 months. The DVD was the most cost-effective of the interventions, and the live session the most popular.
Our hypotheses were confirmed. This study supports the wider use of filmed social contact interventions to reduce stigma about mental illness.