Comparison of stigmatizing experiences between Korean and Canadian patients with depression and bipolar disorders
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Stigma is one of the key barriers to mental health services and there has been growing efforts to develop anti-stigma programs. However, little research has been done on quantifying experiences of stigma and their psychosocial impacts in the perspectives of those that suffer from mental illnesses. It is essential to develop an instrument that quantifies the extent and impact of stigma. Therefore, we conducted a study to field-test The Inventory of Stigmatizing Experiences and measure the difference in perceived stigma and its psychosocial impacts on Korean and Canadian patients with Depression and Bipolar disorders. A cross-sectional comparison study was conducted. Data collection took place at tertiary care hospitals located in Kingston, Ontario, Canada and Seoul, South Korea. In total, 214 Canadian and 51 Korean individuals with depression and bipolar disorder participated. Canadian participants reported significantly higher experience with stigma (p << 0.05) and its impact (p << 0.05) compared to Korean participants. Moreover, patients with bipolar disorder had significantly higher scores on both stigma experience and impact compared to patients with depression (p << 0.05). However, the diagnosis status was not a significant factor in the linear regression analyses, whereas nationality remained as a strong predictor of stigma. Age of symptom onset was also a strong predictor for both stigma experience and stigma impact. Marital status was also a significant factor for stigma impact. Both subscales of the inventory (the stigma experiences scale and the stigma impact scale) were highly reliable, with reliability coefficients of 0.81 and 0.93, respectively. In conclusion, there seems to be higher level of stigma and impact in the Canadian population compared to the Korean population. In addition, bipolar disorder patients may experience more stigma and higher impact compared to patients with depression. These differences in stigma experience and its impact in different populations (by nationality and diagnosis) suggest the need to develop more tailored anti-stigma programs. The Inventory of Stigmatizing Experiences is a highly reliable instrument.