Public stigma and support for others help seeking for alcohol use disorders
A minority of individuals with alcohol use disorders (AUD) seek treatment, where stigma is one prominent barrier. Social support is an important factor to facilitate health and increase treatment seeking. Whether there is an association between stigma and attitudes towards others help seeking for AUD is unknown.
The aim is to investigate if there are associations between public stigma and attitudes towards supporting individuals, suffering from AUD, in seeking help to for their AUD. Moreover, possible gender differences will be explored.
Study design: Cross-sectional study
Participants: Danish adults aged 30 – 65 years from the general population, n=2895.
Data: Year 2020, an online questionnaire was administrated by a market research company. The questionnaire covered demographics, attitudes towards others help seeking for AUD and public stigma measured with 'the Difference, Disdain & Blame Scales for Public Stigma'. Analyses were performed with Restricted Cubic Spline models, and odds ratios were calculated.
Lower stigma was associated with a higher probability for endorsing an 'active support strategy'. Those with the lowest stigma score were four times as probable to endorse an active strategy. Stigma was not associated with 'not knowing what to say or do' or 'sharing my concern with others'. There were few gender differences: among men, higher stigma was associated with a higher probability of 'avoidance'. Among women, lower stigma was associated with a lower probability of 'avoidance'. Among men, lower stigma was associated with a higher probability of 'seeking possibilities on the Internet'. Among women, no such associations were found.
There is a clear association between stigma and support towards others help seeking for AUD. To narrow the treatment gap, we suggest two intertwined foci; one to reduce the stigma associated with AUD. The second, to offer evidence-based services at different levels, also beyond specialist care, that promote engagement towards others treatment seeking.