Nursing students' attitudes towards mental illness: A multi-national comparison

Lorna Moxham, Amy Tapsell, Dana Perlman, Abbas Al Mutair, Ahmad Yahya AL-Sagarat, Faris A. Alsaraireh, Min Huey Chung, Tessy Treesa Jose, Shu Yu Kuo, Megan F. Liu, Asha K. Nayak, Abbas Shamsan, Christopher Sudhakar, Hsiu Ting Tsai, Binil Velayudhan, Chyn Yng Yang, Michelle M. Roberts, Pi Ming Yeh, Christopher Patterson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Accessible Summary What is known on the subject Health professionals, including nurses, are shown to have stigmatizing attitudes towards mental illness. For nursing students who are in their formative years of professional development, mental illness stigma can severely impact the care they provide. Little research has investigated multi-national comparisons of nursing students' attitudes towards mental illness. What this paper adds to existing knowledge This study shows that between countries, there were substantial differences amongst nursing students in stigmatizing attitudes towards mental illness. Cultural perspectives may explain some of these differences. What are the implications for practice Regardless of location, stigmatizing attitudes are present at varying levels. Each nation can take steps to reduce these by acknowledging the presence of stigmatizing attitudes amongst nurses, educating nurses regarding the negative impacts of stigma on patient outcomes, and decrease stigmatizing attitudes by facilitating opportunities for nurses (particularly student nurses) to have direct contact with people with lived experiences of mental illness. Abstract: Introduction: Stigmatizing attitudes perpetuated by nursing professionals are a pervasive problem for people experiencing mental health issues. This global issue has detrimental consequences; inhibiting one's life chances and help-seeking behaviours. To date, few studies have compared nursing students' attitudes towards mental illness from a multi-national perspective. Aim: To compare undergraduate nursing students' attitudes towards mental illness across six countries: Australia, India, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan and USA. Method: In a cross-sectional design, data were collected from undergraduate nursing students (N = 426) using the Social Distance Scale. A one-way analysis of variance was used to compare differences between countries. Results: Nursing students' attitudes to mental illness differed between countries. Social Distance Scores were highest amongst nursing students from Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Students from Taiwan and India possessed moderate stigma scores. Social Distance Scores from the USA and Australia were lowest. Discussion: Clear differences in stigmatizing attitudes emerged between countries; these are discussed in relation to possible cultural influences. Implications for Practice: It is suggested that educating nurses, combined with direct contact with people with lived experiences of mental illness, can reduce stigmatizing attitudes regardless of country, location or educational institution.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2024


  • international comparison
  • mental illness
  • nursing education
  • nursing students
  • stigma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Phychiatric Mental Health


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