Stigma towards persons with mental illness is widespread. Mindfulness may protect against stigma by cultivating accepting attitudes, non-reactivity, and prosocial emotions. This study aimed to assess whether higher trait mindfulness among nurses was linked to lower stigma towards psychiatric patients, and whether compassion mediated this relationship.
In this cross-sectional study among nurses in four tertiary care hospitals in Sri Lanka, stigma towards psychiatric patients was assessed using the Attribution Questionnaire (AQ-9), which assesses nine separate domains of stigma. The 20-item Six-Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire and the 5-item Santa Clara Brief Compassion Scale were used to assess mindfulness and compassion, respectively. Correlations among these variables were explored. Mediation analyses were performed.
A total of 405 nurses (90.6% female, mean age = 39.6 years) participated in the study. Those with higher trait mindfulness were more likely to believe they would help a person with mental illness, and less likely to believe a person with mental illness should be avoided or segregated from the society. Compassion was inversely correlated with avoidance and anger, and positively correlated with pity, helping, and coercion domains. Trait mindfulness was positively correlated with compassion. Mediation models revealed that compassion partially mediated the effects of trait mindfulness on helping and avoidance. Facet-level analyses revealed significant effects of describing, non-reactivity, and observing on several stigma domains mediated through compassion.
Trait mindfulness among nurses appears to have a direct buffering effect against several domains of stigma towards psychiatric patients and significant indirect effects through compassion, albeit with small effect sizes.
This study is not pre-registered.