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Using theatre to address mental illness stigma: a knowledge translation study in bipolar disorder

This research report, available online, explores the impact of a one-woman theatrical performance on attitudes towards bipolar disorder (BD) on people with BD and healthcare providers.

 

Authors: Erin E Michalak, James D Livingston, Victoria Maxwell, Rachelle Hole, Lisa D Hawke and Sagar V Parikh.

Published: 21st January 2014

Journal: International Journal of Bipolar Disorders

 

 

ABSTRACT

Background: 

Reduction of the stigma of mental illness is an international priority; arts- and contact-based approaches represent a promising mode of intervention. This project was designed to explore the impact of a one-woman theatrical performance on attitudes towards bipolar disorder (BD) on people with BD and healthcare providers.

 

Methods:

A playwright and actress who lives with BD developed a stage performance - 'That’s Just Crazy Talk’ - targeting stigmatizing attitudes towards BD. Prospective, longitudinal and sequential mixed methods were used to assess the impact of the performance on people with BD (n = 80) and healthcare providers (n = 84). Qualitative interviews were conducted with 33 participants (14 people with BD and 19 healthcare providers).

 

Results and Discussion: 

Quantitatively, healthcare providers showed significantly improved attitudes immediately post-performance, but this change was not maintained over time; people with BD showed little quantitative change. Qualitatively, both people with BD and BD healthcare providers showed enduring and broadly positive changes. A theatrical presentation designed to reduce stigma produced immediate impact on healthcare providers quantitatively and significant qualitative impact on people with BD and healthcare providers. Additionally, the utility of using mixed-method approaches in mental health research was demonstrated.

 

The report is available online here

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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