Literature on stigma refers to social distance as the most widely used index of attitudes towards mental illness and it involves the desire to avoid contact with patients with psychiatric disorders in social contexts of varied intimacy. Social distance scales have been utilized in more than 100studies internationally, including those that have been conducted under the auspices of the Global Programme against Stigma and Discrimination Because of Schizophrenia run by the World Psychiatric Association (WPA). The Greek site broadened the scale that was used in the WPA pilot studies in order to adjust and validate it in Greece. The extended version consisted of 14 items enquiring about social encounters of varied intimacy with a patient with schizophrenia and were rated on a 5-point Likert scale. Face to face interviews were conducted on a random and representative sample of the Greek general population. The results showed that the scale displayed good reliability and validity, with the principal component analysis revealing 3 underlying factors and thus providing evidence for the multifaceted nature of social distance. The first factor describes stable social relations of moderate intimacy with long duration and consistency in contact; the second factor concerns more close relations which necessitate feelings of trust and a sense of security during the contact with the patient; and the third factor aggregates items describing transient relations of limited intimacy. The investigation of associations between socio-demographic variables and the three factors of the scale constitutes the next step in this process of standardization and validation of the scale in Greece.

Key words: social distance, stigma, schizophrenia, scale validation

M. Economou, E. Peppou, E. Louki, M. Charitsi, C.N. Stefanis (page 217) - Full article (Greek)