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Tijdschrift voor Psychiatrie 57 (2015) 11, 785 - 794

New research

The attitude of the general public towards (discharged) psychiatric patients: results from NEMESIS-2

M. ten Have, J. van Weeghel, S. van Dorsselaer, M. Tuithof, R. de Graaf

background In the Netherlands there is no up-to-date information about the attitude of the public to (discharged) psychiatric patients. Also, very little is known about which population groups hold stigmatising views.
aim To measure the public’s attitudes to (discharged) psychiatric patients and to find out whether these attitudes differ according to the background characteristics (e.g. demographics, respondent's psychiatric history).
method In our study we used attitudes collected via the Netherlands Mental Health Survey and Incidence Study-2, a psychiatric epidemiological study of the adult general population (n = 6646; aged 18-64 years). The psychiatric history of the respondents was assessed by means of the Composite International Diagnostic Interview 3.0.
results More than 70% of the respondents stated that they had no objection to having a (discharged) psychiatric patient as a neighbour, friend or colleague. However, their ´willingness´ declined markedly, namely to less than 30%, when they were asked if they would be willing to have a (discharged) psychiatric patient as their son-in-law or baby-sitter. A comparison with other earlier Dutch studies indicates that since 1987 the willingness of members of the public to let (ex-)psychiatric patients participate in their private and/or family life has increased only very slightly.
conclusion Nowadays, just as in past decades, most Dutch citizens are not opposed to living alongside (discharged) psychiatric patients, but they have reservations about letting such persons participate in their private and family life.

keywords people with mental disorders, population study, stigma