Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Frerichs, Marian

Degree Name

M.S. (Master of Science)

Legacy Department

Department of Nursing


Mental illness--Public opinion


This study investigated the relationships between age, occupation, educational level, and attitudes toward mental illness of adults who live or work in Berwyn, Illinois. The need for this study came as a result of increased responsibility of the community mental health center in Berwyn to exit chronic mental patients into normal roles such as employee or homemaker. Both patients and professional staff expressed fears that the Berwyn community held negative attitudes toward the mentally ill which would hamper the patients' attempts to find jobs. The subjects included in the study were 200 adults who lived or worked in Berwyn. The instrument used was Cohen and Struening's Opinions toward Mental Illness (OMI) Scale. The OMI generates a score for each of five factors: Authoritarianism, Benevolence, Mental Hygiene Ideology, Social Restrictiveness, and Interpersonal Etiology. The results of the analysis of variance for each factor revealed significant differences for occupation and educational level on Authoritarianism, for age, occupation, and educational level on Social Restrictiveness, and for occupation on Interpersonal Etiology. No significant differences were found for the Benevolence or Mental Hygiene Ideology factors. Significant interaction effects for age, occupation, and educational level (p.05) were found for Authoritarianism and Social Restrictiveness. The findings suggest Berwyn adults who are over 60, in blue collar occupations, and lacking a high school education are significantly more authoritarian and socially restrictive than younger, better educated adults who were employed in white collar or professional occupations. The findings of this study suggest the age of Berwyn adults has a stronger relationship to factor scores than has been reported in the literature. Professional staff in the mental health clinic need to authoritatively communicate the soundness of innovative treatment programs in order to prevent any negative reaction from the older, less educated adults in Berwyn. A similar study with a larger sample is recommended to validate results. Comparison of attitudes toward mental illness of communities surrounding Berwyn would offer more information about other influencing variables.


Includes bibliographical references.


vi, 84 pages




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