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Analytical studies

Qualitative study


Research on mental illness stigma has typically focused on schizophrenia and depression. Moreover, studies have typically been quantitative, positivist, and surveyed public opinion rather than subjective experience of people with the psychiatric diagnoses. The experiences of stigma and discrimination amongst people with a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder (BPD) or bipolar disorder (BD) and their informal carers have therefore been under-researched. Where research exists, stigma is rarely the focus.

With regard to BD and stigma, there has been very little exploration of issues beyond the workplace and the immediate family. In terms of BPD and stigma, little is known about experiences outside of healthcare settings. Amongst both groups, self-stigma has received scant attention. Informal carers' view of the range, extent and degree of severity of perceived and actual discrimination for the person they care for, and for themselves, are under-researched. No study has explored the impact of the dynamic between the person diagnosed and their informal carer on the experience of stigma.


To explore the subjective experience of stigma and discrimination in different areas of everyday life amongst people with a diagnosis of either BD or BPD and their informal carers. To assess how these experiences are affected by gender, age, ethnicity, diagnostic group and the nature of the informal carer role. This part of the SAPPHIRE programme uses Critical Realist philosophy in order to situate participant experiences within socio-cultural structures.


This is wholly a qualitative study using both in-depth interviews and mini focus groups. Participants were recruited via charities and participant networking.

Progress to date and future plans:

Fieldwork has been completed. Twenty-nine people with a diagnosis of BPD or BD and 20 informal carers have been interwiewed. Five mini focus groups have also taken place. The data has been analysed and the research is being written up.


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