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Psych Congress  

Do Stigmatized Beliefs Differ According to Depression Severity in Taiwanese University Students?

Arif Pendi, MS; Jahanzeb Ashraf, MS; Jean Tsai, PhD, LLM; Ciny Liu, graduate student; Samir Abou El Magd, MD; Sherif Gohar, MD; Mohamed Khalil, MD; Kate Wolitzky-Taylor, PhD; Danny Lee, BS, BA; David Baron, DO, MSEd

This poster was presented at the 29th Annual U.S. Psychiatric & Mental Health Congress, held October 21-24, 2016, in San Antonio, Texas.

Background: Despite the prevalence of depression worldwide, the social stigma associated with depression often discourages treatment seeking. Depression stigma can be divided into personal stigmatized beliefs, which comprise one's own views, and perceived stigmatized beliefs, which are those that a person believes are held by others. University students that experience depression may exhibit different degrees of personal and perceived stigma compared to their counterparts. Given how depression stigma may prevent students from requesting help, variation in stigmatized beliefs has important implications for university programs to combat depression.

Method: Following IRB approval, a survey was disseminated to university students in Taiwan to collect their views regarding depression and stigma. The survey comprised a socio-demographic portion, PHQ-9 (Patient Health Questionnaire-9) and DSS (Depression Stigma Scale). Microsoft® Excel 15.11.2 and IBM® SPSS® 22 were used to complete the analyses.

Results: A total of 207 complete responses were obtained from student participants. On average, students displayed more perceived stigmatized beliefs compared to personal beliefs (p<0.001). The PHQ-9 criteria for moderate to severe depression was satisfied by 21.3% of respondents, who also exhibited greater personal stigma (p=0.006) and perceived stigma (p=0.006). Alcohol use was a predictor for more personal stigma (p<0.05) and a non-heterosexual orientation was associated with more perceived stigma (p=0.001).

Conclusions: Personal and perceived stigma varied directly with depression severity in Taiwanese university students, underscoring a need to account for these and demographic differences. Future research should be focused on implementing and evaluating stigma reduction initiatives on university campuses.

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