Identifiable Characteristics and Potentially Malleable Beliefs Predict Stigmatizing Attributions Toward Persons With Alzheimer’s Disease Dementia: Results of a Survey of the U.S. General Public


The general public’s views can influence whether people with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) experience stigma. The purpose of this study was to understand what characteristics in the general public are associated with stigmatizing attributions. A random sample of adults from the general population read a vignette about a man with mild Alzheimer’s disease dementia and completed a modified Family Stigma in Alzheimer’s Disease Scale (FS-ADS). Multivariable ordered logistic regressions were used to examine relationships between personal characteristics and FS-ADS ratings. Older respondents expected that persons with AD would receive less support (OR = 0.82, p = .001), have social interactions limited by others (OR = 1.13, p = .04), and face institutional discrimination (OR = 1.13, p = .04). Females reported stronger feelings of pity (OR = 1.57, p = .03) and weaker reactions to negative aesthetic features (OR = 0.67, p = .05). Those who believed strongly that AD was a mental illness rated symptoms more severely (OR = 1.78, p = .007). Identifiable characteristics and beliefs in the general public are related to stigmatizing attributions toward AD. To reduce AD stigma, public health messaging campaigns can tailor information to subpopulations, recognizable by their age, gender, and beliefs.

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