Objectives. A number of multi-center studies concerning the subjective experience of stigma amongpersons suffering from mental illness have been conducted in recent years. The presented study explored relationships between sociodemographic and clinical characteristics on the one hand, and anticipated and experienced stigma on the other.
Method. Participants in the study were 202 patients (mean age 40 years) diagnosed with schizophrenia or schizophreniform syndromes (according to the ICD-10 criteria). They came from the Małopolska region, and on the average had 6 previous hospital stays. Using the ąuestionnaire by M. Angermayer the patients expressed their opinions (anticipating stigma) and reported their experiences (experiencing stigma). In the analysis of intergroup differences the Mann-Whitney test was used, while more complex relationships were analyzed by means of stepwise multiple regression.
Results. (1) Older age and large city as the place of residence explain the anticipated stigma to a limited, but significant extent, while intense experiencing of stigma is explained also to a limited, but significant extent by better education, joblessness, and larger number ofprevious hospitalizations. (2) A significant portion of the experienced stigma may be explained by stigma anticipation, and especially by a number of beliefs: that contacts with the mentally ill are stigmatized by negative stereotypes and therefore made more difficult, that access to employment is more difficult to the mentally ill, that partnership with a person suffering from mental disorders is impossible, or that such persons have a more difficult access to goods distributed by institutions. (3) In our study gender turned out to be a factor insignificant in explaining stigma indicators.
Conclusions. (1) A limited, but significant extent of anticipating and experiencing stigma may be explained by sociodemographic and clinical factors. (2) The experience of stigma may be explained to a limited, but significant extent by stigma anticipation. (3) Therapeutic programs should be focused on an improvement of the patients' self-esteem and counteracting their self-stigmatization.