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

Der Yan Han, Sue Huei Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)666-673
Number of pages8
JournalPsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • depression
  • neuroscience
  • psychoeducation
  • social distance
  • stigma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • General Neuroscience


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