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Stuttering, obesity, and mental illness attitudes (St. Louis, 2020)

journal contribution
posted on 28.08.2020 by Kenneth O. St. Louis
Purpose: Extensive research on public attitudes has documented stigma toward stuttering, obesity, and mental illness; however, most studies have focused on only one of these conditions. This study sought to compare public attitudes toward stuttering, obesity, and mental illness as well as to identify the predictive potential of four ratings relating to these and other neutral or desirable conditions.
Method: Five hundred respondents who were selected from each of three international databases filled out the Public Opinion Survey of Human Attributes (POSHA) for stuttering, obesity, or mental illness. The POSHA surveys were as similar as possible, and all contained four general items asking respondents’ “impression” of the attribute, extent to which he or she “wants to be/have” that attribute, “amount known” about the attribute, and “persons known” who manifest the attribute, for stuttering, obesity, and mental illness plus two others, namely, left-handedness and intelligence. The POSHA surveys also had the same summary scores, Beliefs, Self-Reactions, and an Overall Score.
Results: Summary scores for the three POSHA surveys in the 500-respondent samples revealed negative attitudes toward all three conditions, the most positive being toward obesity, followed by stuttering and then by mental illness. Stepwise regression analysis indicated that various general items had significant prediction potential not only of attitudes for the same condition but also of attitudes for other conditions. The greatest other condition predictions were between stuttering and mental illness.
Conclusions: Stuttering is regarded as less stigmatizing than mental illness but more stigmatizing than obesity. Additionally, positivity toward one condition results in limited positivity toward the others. Impressions and knowledge of—as well as experience with—stigmatized conditions can inform public awareness campaigns and individual clinical programs dealing with stigma.

Supplemental Material S1. Description and results of two verification comparisons of the rank order of overall attitudes on the POSHA–S, POSHA–Ob, and POSHA–MI.

Supplemental Material S2. POSHA–S, POSHA–Ob, and POSHA–MI demographic and attitudinal ratings for three triads of samples: 500 randomly selected respondents from the stuttering, obesity, and mental illness databases; 163 respondents who filled out early versions of all three POSHAs, and 50 U.S. respondents who filled out an earlier prototype of the POSHA–S as well as 50 U.S. respondents who filled out revised versions of the POSHA–Ob, and POSHA–MI.

Supplemental Material S3. Subscore and overall scores for three triads of samples taking the POSHA–S, POSHA–Ob, and POSHA–MI: 500 randomly selected respondents, 163 same respondents, and 50 U.S. respondents.

Supplemental Material S4. Stepwise regression models for Beliefs, Self Reactions, and Overall Scores for the POSHA–S, POSHA–Ob, and POSHA-MI. Each analysis shows statistically significant additions of variables to the model from most to least predictive potential, and these are listed below the table.

St. Louis, K. O. (2020). Comparing and predicting public attitudes toward stuttering, obesity, and mental illness. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1044/2020_AJSLP-20-00038

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