The effects of prospective naturalistic contact on the STIGMA of mental illness

Shannon M. Couture, David L. Penn

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    The primary aim of this study was to determine whether naturalistic, interpersonal contact with persons with a severe mental illness (SAMI) could reduce stigma. Participants from the agency Compeer (which pairs volunteers with people with SMI) were compared to volunteers from a control agency and to nonvolunteer participants from the community on stigma measures over a 6-month period. The quality of the relationship between the Compeer volunteer and consumer and its association with changes in stigmatizing attitudes was also assessed. The results provide preliminary evidence that naturalistic contact can reduce negative affective responses to individuals with SMI. Furthermore, changes in affective response were related to the quality of the contact between the Compeer volunteer and consumer. Implications for future research are discussed. © 2006 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)635-645
    Number of pages10
    JournalJournal of Community Psychology
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - Sept 2006


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