A Multi-Site Evaluation of Contact-Based Anti-Stigma Programs For High School Youth
Adolescents have become an important target for contact based anti-stigma programs. Research on mental health stigma reduction in adolescents has been hindered by lack of validated measures to evaluate interventions. To reduce stigma and improve mental health, we need the capacity to observe and measure stigma and to evaluate whether or not interventions are producing the desired effect. The many scales used to measure attitudes towards people with mental illness that exist today are not adequate as they have been developed for the adult population outside of the intervention setting. The first objective was to develop two scales, one to measure stereotypic attributions toward people with a mental illness and another to measure social acceptance of those with a mental illness. The second objective was to use the scales to evaluate three different types of contact-based interventions that were delivered by one program. Survey data were collected from adolescent students aged between 12 and 19 years Qualitative methods, including expert opinion and focus group discussion were used for item generation, item review and refinement, and in general to establish content validity. Quantitative methods, such as exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis, known group differences, Cronbach’s alpha and test-retest reliability were also used to assess validity and reliability. For the second objective students received one of three contact-based interventions or a comparison situation. Data were analyzed using linear regression. Results showed that a one-factor solution was the best fit for the data for each scale. When programs were evaluated, larger improvements were seen on the Stereotypic Attributions scale than on the Social Acceptance scale. For the second objective all three interventions types showed a positive change in social acceptance compared to a group that did not receive an intervention. This study has established initial reliability and validity of two scales to evaluate youth attitudes towards and social acceptance of those with a mental illness in a wide range of samples of students from middle and high schools in Canada. This study has also demonstrated that contact-based education provided in class, as an assembly, or as a student summit can be promising practices for reducing stigma in middle and high school students.
URI for this recordhttp://hdl.handle.net/1974/25928
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