Somatic health care professionals’ stigmatization of patients with mental disorder: a scoping review

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

117 Downloads (Pure)


Patients with mental disorders have an increased risk of developing somatic disorders, just as they have a higher risk of dying from them. These patients often report feeling devaluated and rejected by health professionals in the somatic health care system, and increasing evidence shows that disparities in health care provision contribute to poor health outcomes. The aim of this review was to map and synthesize literature on somatic health professionals’ stigmatization toward patients with mental disorders.

We conducted a scoping review using Arksey and O’Malley’s framework and carried out a systematic search in three databases: Cinahl, MEDLINE, and PsycINFO in May–June 2019. Peer-reviewed articles published in English or Scandinavian languages during 2008–2019 were reviewed according to title, abstract and full-text reading. We organized and analyzed data using NVivo.

A total of 137 articles meeting the eligibility criteria were reviewed and categorized as observational studies (n = 73) and intervention studies (n = 64). A majority of studies (N = 85) focused on patients with an unspecified number of mental disorders, while 52 studies focused on specific diagnoses, primarily schizophrenia (n = 13), self-harm (n = 13), and eating disorders (n = 9). Half of the studies focused on health students (n = 64), primarily nursing students (n = 26) and medical students (n = 25), while (n = 66) focused on health care professionals, primarily emergency staff (n = 16) and general practitioners (n = 13). Additionally, seven studies focused on both health professionals and students. A detailed characterization of the identified intervention studies was conducted, resulting in eight main types of interventions.

The large number of studies identified in this review suggests that stigmatizing attitudes and behaviors toward patients with mental disorders is a worldwide challenge within a somatic health care setting. For more targeted interventions, there is a need for further research on underexposed mental diagnoses and knowledge on whether specific health professionals have a more stigmatizing attitude or behavior toward specific mental disorders.
Original languageEnglish
Article number443
JournalBMC Psychiatry
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)1-19
Publication statusPublished - 7. Sept 2021


  • Health care professional
  • Health care student
  • Mental disorders
  • Mental health
  • Scoping review
  • Stigma
  • Health Personnel
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders
  • Stereotyping
  • Psychotic Disorders
  • Students, Medical


Dive into the research topics of 'Somatic health care professionals’ stigmatization of patients with mental disorder: a scoping review'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this