Adolescents' Stigma Attitudes Toward Internalizing and Externalizing Disorders

Published in: Clinical Psychological Science, v. 4, no. 4, July 2016, p. 704-717, doi:10.1177/2167702616646314

Posted on RAND.org on March 15, 2017

by Anna S. Lau, Sisi Guo, William Tsai, Julie Nguyen, Hannah Nguyen, Victoria K. Ngo, Bahr Weiss

Read More

Access further information on this document at Clinical Psychological Science

This article was published outside of RAND. The full text of the article can be found at the link above.

Objective

This study examined predictors of stigma attitudes toward common youth emotional behavioral problems to test the hypothesis that interdependent cultural values would be associated with differential stigma towards externalizing versus internalizing disorders. Furthermore, we examined whether problem-specific stigma attitudes would predict adolescent's own self-reported manifestations of distress.

Method

1224 Vietnamese American and European American adolescents completed measures of social distance stigma attitudes in response to vignettes depicting youth with internalizing (depression, social anxiety, somatization) and externalizing (alcohol use, aggressive behaviors, delinquency) disorders. A subset of 676 youth also provided self-reports on their own adjustment prospectively over six months.

Results

Measurement models revealed clear separation of negatively correlated factors assessing stigma toward externalizing versus internalizing problems. Values related to family interdependence were significantly associated with greater tolerance of internalizing disorders and lower tolerance of externalizing disorders. Stigma towards internalizing disorders was associated with lower concurrent self-reported internalizing symptoms, whereas stigma towards externalizing symptoms was associated with lower concurrent externalizing symptoms and greater decreases in externalizing symptoms over time.

Conclusions

The results of the study suggest that stigma attitudes are differentiated by problem type and may represent one cultural factor shaping distress manifestations.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation External publication series. Many RAND studies are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as chapters in commercial books, or as documents published by other organizations.

Our mission to help improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis is enabled through our core values of quality and objectivity and our unwavering commitment to the highest level of integrity and ethical behavior. To help ensure our research and analysis are rigorous, objective, and nonpartisan, we subject our research publications to a robust and exacting quality-assurance process; avoid both the appearance and reality of financial and other conflicts of interest through staff training, project screening, and a policy of mandatory disclosure; and pursue transparency in our research engagements through our commitment to the open publication of our research findings and recommendations, disclosure of the source of funding of published research, and policies to ensure intellectual independence. For more information, visit www.rand.org/about/principles.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.