What is it about?

This review aimed to systematically identify, evaluate and synthesize existing findings from qualitative studies regarding the experience of stigma among family members of people with severe mental illness. A systematic literature search for primary studies was conducted in electronic databases until March 2019. Findings from the included qualitative studies were extracted and aggregated using meta-synthesis. Five major categories were identified in 20 studies: “negative public images of mental illness”, “structural discrimination against mental illness”, “stigma encountered in everyday life”, “psychological distress associated with stigmatization”, and “coping with stigma”. It is suggested that culturally appropriate multi-level interventions targeting the general public, health professionals, communities and family members need to be developed to reduce the harmful influence of associated family stigma.

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Why is it important?

Our review shows that family members of people with severe mental illness experience stigma at all levels of their lives and multi-level interventions need to be employed to alleviate the harmful consequences. And of particular notes, our review highlight the need to pay attention to the negative attitudes mental health professionals hold towards the families and the importance of understanding stigma from a social-cultural context.

Perspectives

Our manuscript contributes to a better understanding of the stigma experienced by family members of people with severe mental illness and provides directions in clinical practice of mental health nursing for this group.

Min Yin
Peking Union Medical College

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This page is a summary of: Experience of stigma among family members of people with severe mental illness: A qualitative systematic review, International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, October 2019, Wiley, DOI: 10.1111/inm.12668.
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