Older peoples' attitudes to mental illness

Kathryn M Quinn, Kenneth Laidlaw, Lindsey K Murray

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40 Citations (Scopus)


Despite the prevalence of mental health problems in later life, older people markedly underutilize mental health services. A greater awareness of factors influencing older peoples' attitudes to mental illness may therefore improve awareness and treatment of mental disorders in this population. A mixed methodology approach was used to explore and compare older peoples' attitudes to mental illness in a sample of clinical and non-clinical participants. Results indicated that, similar to younger people, older people endorsed a range of positive and negative attitudes to mental illness. However, when attitudes to mental illness were considered within the context of ageing and experience a more complex pattern of results emerged. Although negative attitudes to mental illness were associated with negative attitudes to ageing across the entire sample, clinical participants (and those with prior experience of mental illness) reported more positive attitudes to mental illness and more negative attitudes to ageing than non-clinical participants, for whom the reverse was true. Attitudes were also differentially related to health behaviour outcomes. Results suggest that attitudes to mental illness and ageing may be linked and mediated by personal experience and capacity for psychological self-regulation in the face of age-associated adversity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-45
Number of pages13
JournalClinical Psychology & Psychotherapy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • Aged
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders
  • Models, Psychological
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care
  • Prejudice
  • Scotland
  • Stereotyping

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