According to the U.S. Surgeon General and the World Health Organization (WHO), the stigma attached to mental illness (MI) stands as one of the most critical barriers to recognition, treatment and recovery. Under a special program of the Fogarty International Center and with additional support from the National Institute of Mental Health and the Office of Behavioral and Social Science Research, the Stigma in Global Context - Mental Health Study (SGC-MHS) was mounted to understand the extent to which MI is understood and stigmatized across countries. Despite the inclusion of a wide range of countries, China stands as a notable absence in the SGC-MHS data set. This application is designed to fill that gap by combining substantive expertise on China and its unique sampling challenges with the experience of SGC-MHS researchers. This application proposes to : 1) Estimate the nature, level and individual level correlates of stigma in China using a tailored version of the SGC-MH Study instrument;2) Use the survey data collected by the Chinese module of the SGC-MHS to test hypotheses concerning the influences of barriers, particularly stigma, to the endorsement of medical and mental health services;3) Integrate the data from the Chinese module of the SGC-MHS into the larger 16 nation study to examine the causes and correlates of stigma. Towards these ends, data will be collected from a nationally representative sample of the Chinese population (N= 5,250) in face-to-face interviews using a tailored version of the SGCMHS instrument. Adding China to the SGC-MHS will improve understanding of the underlying roots of stigma, sharpen estimates of the global burden of stigma, and provide a critical, scientific base for stigma reduction in China and elsewhere.

Public Health Relevance

With one-fifth of the world's population, China accounts for a sizable share of the global burden of disease, including mental illness. Existing research indicates that stigma shapes both individual (e.g., low service use, prejudice, discrimination) and system problems (e.g., inadequate treatment resources). Examining both the roots and the potential consequences of stigmatizing attitudes, beliefs, and behavioral predispositions in China would significantly improve scientific understanding, the development of interventions and the policy implications of data provided by the existing cross-national collaboration in the SGC-MHS.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Research Project (R01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Behavioral Genetics and Epidemiology Study Section (BGES)
Program Officer
Rubio, Mercedes
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Indiana University Bloomington
Social Sciences
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
Zip Code
Pescosolido, Bernice A; Martin, Jack K; Olafsdottir, Sigrun et al. (2015) The Theory of Industrial Society and Cultural Schemata: Does the ""Cultural Myth of Stigma"" Underlie the WHO Schizophrenia Paradox? AJS 121:783-825