Salud Pública de México
Print version ISSN 0036-3634
GARCIA-SILBERMAN, Sarah. An explanatory model of behavior towards mental illness. Salud pública Méx [online]. 2002, vol.44, n.4, pp. 289-296. ISSN 0036-3634. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0036-36342002000400001.
Objective. To evaluate a theoretical model designed to explain behaviors toward mental illness, considering some variables related to the construct. Material and Methods. A survey was conducted in 1996 on mental disorder beliefs, attitudes, and behavioral intentions. The sample population was stratified by socioeconomic status, age, and gender. Study subjects were 800 individuals from Mexico City's general population. A data collection instrument was constructed and validated, consisting of 120 Likert-type items with five options each. Data were coded and analyzed with the software package SPSS. Internal consistency of the scales was assessed using Cronbach's alpha and construct validity with factorial analysis. Student's t test and ANOVA were used to compare the groups in the different strata. Results. The model allowed to confirm the predictive capacity of the causal chain connecting beliefs, attitudes, and intentions; nevertheless, other study variables did not contribute to explain it, and behavior was scarcely influenced by intentions, depending mainly on experimented necessity. Conclusions. Study findings constitute a basis to understand the attitudes of shame and fear usually related to mental illnesses, to plan efficient actions aimed at modifying them, and to design programs to promote mental health.
Keywords : mental health; mental illness; attitudes; behaviour; theoretical model; Mexico.