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Year : 2006  |  Volume : 13  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 210-215

Public stigma towards psychiatric patients in a South-Western Nigerian town

Department of Behavioural Sciences, University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital, PO Box 617, Ilorin, Kwara State, Nigeria

Correspondence Address:
A B Makanjuola
Department of Behavioural Sciences, University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital, PO Box 617, Ilorin, Kwara State
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

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BACKGROUND: Stigma is still a strong barrier to provision and utilisation of mental health services and every effort should be made to reduce it. Since there have been contradicting reports about the level of stigma in Africa and developing nations, more studies are needed to assist stakeholders to address the challenges. AIMS AND OBJECTIVES: The study strives to determine the level of stigma (stereotypes, prejudices and discriminating behaviours) among residents of a traditional Nigerian town of Osogbo to psychiatric patients. It also attempts to proffer ways of further reducing stigma, if any, in the studied population. METHOD: During a three-month period, a semi-structured interview schedule was administered to a stratified random sample of all consenting eligible adults in the study area. FINDINGS: It was found that a significant proportion of the 84 respondents had less stigmatising attitude towards people with psychiatric illness. Respondents' age, levels of education and belief in causation of mental illness were found to be significantly associated with their responses as regards stigma. CONCLUSION: In spite of the limitations of sample size and the relatively high level of education of the respondents (as compared with the national literacy rate), the study showed that public stigma towards psychiatric patients in Osogbo is generally low. While this finding is in keeping with some earlier reports, it was suggested that future studies should employ larger sample size and wider geographical coverage in order to put to rest the conflicting opinions about the level of stigma towards psychiatric patients among Nigerians and Africans as compared to western countries.

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