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Psychiatry Journal
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 319429, 11 pages
Research Article

Dimensions of Attitudes towards the Mentally Ill in the General Population Stability and Change over Time at Urban and Rural Sites

1Division of Mental Health and Addiction, Institute of Clinical Medicine, University of Oslo, 0316 Oslo, Norway
2Division of Research, North Coast Psychiatry, 1482 Nittedal, Norway

Received 29 November 2012; Revised 8 January 2013; Accepted 25 January 2013

Academic Editor: José Francisco Navarro

Copyright © 2013 Tom Sørensen and Andreas Sørensen. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Items measuring attitudes toward the mentally ill can be limited in relevance to a particular period or place. The main objective of the study was to provide evidence toward a questionnaire that was short and psychometrically stable over time and geography, and that could be used within comprehensive mental health surveys of general populations. Four rural samples, Lofoten 1983 ( ), 1990 ( ), 2000 ( ), and Valdres 2010 ( ), and two urban samples, Oslo 1990 ( ) and 2000 ( ), were used to test this. The questionnaire was self-administered with fixed questions and response alternatives. Using the three Lofoten and the two Oslo samples, the stability of the factor analytic structure of 19 attitude items was established. In all analyses, there was a clear leveling off after three factors. The 13 highest loading items on these three factors were used in a new rural region, Valdres, in 2010. The three established factors/dimensions, named Distance, Demands, and Positive, seemed to be reasonably stable within a variety of Norwegian samples. On the other hand, the analyses were different enough to recommend researchers and politicians to be careful when comparing absolute levels of the suggested indexes across different locations and at different points in time.