Stigmatization of posttraumatic stress disorder is altered by PTSD Knowledge and the precipitating trauma of the sufferer

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Background: Reducing stigma could improve well-being and decrease discrimination toward persons with mental illness.

Aim: The current study investigated the impact of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) knowledge and the characteristics of a person suffering from PTSD symptoms on stigmatization.

Method: University students (n = 560) read one of twelve vignettes describing someone with PTSD symptoms who varied by gender, military status, and precipitating trauma. Then, participants rated their own responses to the person in the vignette (i.e. personal stigma), their perception of how others would respond (i.e. perceived stigma), and their comfort with the person in different social settings (i.e. social distance) followed by a PTSD Knowledge Questionnaire.

Results: PTSD knowledge was associated with decreased personal stigma and increased willingness to socialize with individuals in the vignettes. The precipitating trauma of the person in the vignette influenced perceived stigma ratings, lowering perceived stigma for those who had experienced a rape as opposed to a car accident. Neither the gender nor military status of the person in the vignette affected stigmatization.

Conclusions: The current findings underscore the importance of mental health education in reducing stigma and indicate that the type of precipitating trauma affects attitudes toward those with PTSD symptoms.


This article was originally published in Journal of Mental Health. The full-text article from the publisher can be found here.

Due to copyright restrictions, this article is not available for free download from ScholarWorks @ CWU.


Journal of Mental Health