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Mass media interventions for reducing mental-health related stigma

Abstract / Summary: 
Plain language summary: Mass media interventions for reducing stigma towards people with mental health problems.   People define stigma in various ways. In this review we focus on two key aspects of stigma: discrimination (treating people unfairly because of the group they belong to) and prejudice (negative attitudes and emotions towards certain groups). People with mental health problems often experience stigma. It can have awful effects on their lives. Mass media are media that are intended to communicate with large numbers of people without using face-to-face contact.  Examples include newspapers, billboards, pamphlets, DVDs, television, radio, cinema, and the Internet. Anti-stigma campaigns often include mass media interventions, and can be expensive, so it is important to find out if the use of mass media interventions can reduce stigma.   We reviewed studies comparing people who saw or heard a mass media intervention about mental health problems with people who had not seen or heard any intervention, or who had seen an intervention which contained nothing about mental ill health or stigma. We aimed to find out what effects mass media interventions may have on reducing stigma towards people with mental health problems.   We found 22 studies involving 4490 people.  Five of these studies had data about discrimination and 19 had data about prejudice. We found that mass media interventions may reduce, increase, or have no effect on discrimination. We found that mass media interventions may reduce prejudice. The amount of the reduction can be considered as small to medium, and is similar to reducing the level of prejudice from that associated with schizophrenia to that associated with major depression. The quality of the evidence about discrimination and prejudice was low, so we cannot be very certain about these findings. Only three studies gave any information about financial costs and two about adverse affects, and there were limitations in how they assessed these, so we cannot draw conclusions about these aspects.
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Cochrane Consumers and Communication Group

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