PURPOSE The aim of this review is to identify consistent themes among the qualitative
literature on stigma as experienced by community mental health patients with schizophrenia.
With the treatment focus of schizophrenia nowadays shifting more and more towards
community-based mental health care, professionals need to be aware of the increased
vulnerability of their clients in their social environment as a result of stigma towards their
disease. In-depth knowledge on stigma is critical in order to offer a qualitative dignifying
community mental health care.
METHODS A systematic search of the qualitative literature in Web of Science, Pubmed,
PsycINFO and Francis was performed to review the subjective experiences and ideas on
stigma in outpatients with schizophrenia.
RESULTS Three major themes were identified in 18 studies and need to be taken into
consideration when implementing an adequate community mental health care: (i) the
continuing existence of stigma inherent in the health care setting, (ii) the importance of
relational aspects of stigma encounters in daily life and (iii) the significance of the
behavioural aspects related to previous stigma experiences and beliefs among patients.
CONCLUSIONS Despite much effort in community treatment, patients still experience
stigma and discrimination. Community mental health care professionals should not only be
aware of structural problems in mental health care, but should also display considerable
attention towards the relational and behavioural aspects in their clients‟ life concerning
stigma. Furthermore, they have the crucial role in the community to raise awareness about
stigma in order to improve their clients‟ acceptance in society.