Reducing the stigma of depression through neurobiology-based psychoeducation: A randomized controlled trial

Authors

  • Der-Yan Han PhD,

    1. Center for General Education, Taipei Medical University, Taipei, Taiwan
    2. Department of Psychology, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan
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  • Sue-Huei Chen PhD

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Psychology, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan
    • Correspondence: Sue-Huei Chen, PhD, Department of Psychology, National Taiwan University, 1 Roosevelt Road, Sec. 4, Taipei 106, Taiwan. Email: shchen@ntu.edu.tw

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Abstract

Aims

Attribution theory claims that people who are stigmatized experience more negative emotional and behavioral reactions from others when they are thought to be responsible for their problems. Accordingly, this study proposed a neurobiology-based psychoeducational intervention, which attempted to reduce people's blameworthy attitudes toward and social distance from depressed individuals.

Methods

One hundred and thirty-two college students were randomly assigned to an experimental and control group. Participants in the experimental group received a 30-min lecture on neurobiology-based psychoeducation for depressive disorders, and were asked to fill out questionnaires before and 2 weeks after the intervention. The control group, with no intervention, also filled out the same questionnaires before and 2 weeks after the experiment. The main contents of the neurobiology-based psychoeducation concerned the neurotransmission processes and biological mechanisms of depression, in order to emphasize the biological attribution of depression.

Results

An ancova indicated that the neurobiology-based psychoeducational intervention significantly elevated the biological attribution of depression and reduced the social distance from depressed individuals. Psychological blameworthy attitudes toward depression, however, did not significantly change.

Conclusions

Through a brief psychoeducation program about depression, knowledge of neuroscience could lead to positive benefits. Public awareness that depression can be effectively prevented and treated may be a way in which people can accept depressed individuals. Further studies are needed to certify the mechanisms of the effect of neurobiology-based psychoeducation.

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