Relationship Between Stereotypes, Prejudice, and Social Distancing in a Sample of Health Care Providers

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Objective: To explore the mediational effects of prejudice on the relationship between negative stereotypes and social distance (discrimination) in a sample of Veterans Administration health care providers.

Methods: Data for this study were collected between August 2011 and April 2012 as part of a larger study examining provider attitudes and clinical expectations toward 2 hypothetical vignette patients: 1 with schizophrenia and 1 without schizophrenia. Survey responses from health care providers were gathered using 3 well-recognized measures: the 9-item Semantic Differential Scale, 9-item Attribution Questionnaire, and Social Distance Scale. A path model was tested using Mplus version 6 to investigate whether prejudice mediates the relation between provider stereotyping and social distance.

Results: A total of 351 health care providers responded to the survey. The results indicate that there was a significant positive correlation between provider stereotypes and prejudice (β = 0.298, P < .0001), and prejudice significantly predicted social distance (β = 0.190, P = .002). The indirect effect of stereotypes on social distance, tested using bootstrapped standard errors, was also statistically significant (β = 0.167, P = .007).

Conclusions: Findings from this study confirm the important role of affective reactions (prejudice) in generating discriminatory behavior (social distancing) among health care providers. The findings will also help future researchers identify potential targets for interventions to decrease stigma among health care providers.

Prim Care Companion CNS Disord 2018;20(3):17m02264