Associate Professor of Social and Behavioral Sciences
If every public health researcher had a calling card indicator, Dr. Larry Yang's would be stigma.
What began as a curiosity to think, study and write about his own culture -- Chinese culture and its influences on the manifestation of stigma -- drove the GPH Associate Professor to develop a framework for how stigma acts to impede social recovery cross-culturally to improve the lives of countless people with mental illness and their families around the world.
"I was drawn by the global and applied perspective of GPH. I saw working at GPH as an incredible research opportunity to build mental health programs and the college's ties to NYU Shanghai as a unique opportunity to further establish research studies throughout China," said Larry regarding his new position on the GPH Social and Behavioral Sciences team. As part of the faculty, Larry will teach Psychometric Measurement and Analysis in the fall as well as a Social Behavioral Sciences course in the spring. In addition to teaching, Larry will continue several ongoing research studies on the forefront of public health and psychiatric epidemiology.
As PI of a five year study, R01-Stigma of Clinical High-Risk Psychosis (CHR) funded by the NIMH, Larry is examining the impact of stigma on identity among youth diagnosed with a Clinical High-Risk State for Psychosis (CHR). The research is being conducted in partnership with the medical schools of Harvard, Columbia and Maine. "People used to think that intervening with psychosis when a person first has a psychotic break was early intervention," said Larry. "Now, we understand that the first psychotic break is actually well into the development of the disorder." Using a diagnostic interview that identifies a Clinical High-Risk Psychosis state to look for clinical features and symptoms of psychosis, a mental health professional can detect the signs of psychosis and begin treatment. Early treatment can help delay onset of psychosis and possibly improve the course of the illness. Yet, only 30 percent of those with the earliest signs of psychosis will develop a full-psychotic disorder. "Early detection comes with a potential cost," said Larry. "There are all sorts of implications regarding how early diagnosis could negatively affect a young person's identity and the way the rest of the world views them." For the past four years, Larry has been examining the impact of psychological, social, and developmental outcomes among participants identified as CHR. The study is now in its 5th year and nearing completion. Additionally, Larry is conducting a supplemental study to examine the manifestation of stigma using neuroimaging and to determine whether and how stigma is expressed in the brain.
Larry's fascination with stigma was first sparked during his dissertation research in Shanghai with a leader in global mental health research, Michael Phillips. "I saw stigma in its most terrifying and ferocious form," said Larry describing his first experiences working with people with severe mental health in Shanghai. "For the family members and those with mental illness themselves, it's crippling and debilitating. What 'face' (a crucial Chinese concept) allows you to do is to plug into social networks and enables you to access social resources. Just imagine if you are cut off from any social resource? You have no power. You have no way to access the common things that most people do in their everyday lives. People call this being 'faceless' or 'social death'." From this experience, Larry became motivated to do something to empower people with mental illness and their families within their communities.
After receiving an NIMH K-award, Larry conducted a study in New York City of the psychological factors, including stigma, that shape the course of mental illness among Chinese immigrants. As a result of this study, Larry formulated theoretical work on how culture relates to stigma and implementing interventions to improve recovery for different stigmatizing conditions on which his future research is based. He learned that upholding face (or preserving honor and the community's respect) is important among Chinese immigrants, as it is for Asians in many countries. When someone develops signs of mental illness, that person loses face in many circumstances. Resulting from his K-Award, Larry used the study to formulate an anti-stigma intervention to help people with mental illness take a powerful step towards regaining face. "Arthur Kleinman and I call it "remobilization", Larry said. "We helped Chinese immigrants with psychosis move from a position where they were completely disempowered in society to a place where they could reengage with society. To work if they wish, to volunteer if they wish. We were able to help them re-engage in social interaction and reduce internalized stigma." Although his anti-stigma intervention has been based in the US, they have now conducted similar research in China and in other international settings such as Chile, Argentina, India and Botswana.
Larry returned to China as PI of an R01 study with co-PI's, Michael Phillips and Larry Seidman, Characterizing Cognition of Untreated Psychosis in China. Recently, China has been rolling out programs in detection of untreated psychosis around the country. As the program had not yet reached the poorest provinces in China, including Ningxia, Larry chose to propose a study there which has since become supported by the Ningxia Ministry of Health. The study includes 400 untreated psychosis participants, who are then matched with 400 treated psychosis participants and an additional 400 healthy control participants in Ningxia Province.
"If you've ever seen "A Beautiful Mind", you may have noted that there were points where the main character John Nash, Jr. maintained his brilliance and others where he was more dull and slowed down. Unfortunately, this slowing of cognition happens to a lot of people with psychosis. But we've never been able to disentangle how much of this is connected to the illness and how much is due to the medication. This study is a historic scientific opportunity to examine what cognition looks like in people who are completely untreated for psychosis."
Additionally, Larry's team will work with Michael Phillips and local psychiatrists in the province to scale up their capacity to treat first episode psychosis by providing more advanced clinical training.
While Larry has conducted several studies in China, his latest research has also taken him to South America (Argentina, Chile and Brazil). Currently, he is part of a study, the Collaborative Hub for International Research in Mental Health, an NIMH U-19, establishing a network of research hubs: two in South America (including his team's study in Chile, Argentina and Brazil), one in Asia and one in Africa. Following a scale up intervention conducted by his research partners, Larry co-leads a qualitative evaluation to measure the barriers and facilitators to scale-up social interventions for psychosis in Latin America and across all hub sites. His collaborating research partners on this study include the University of Chile (Santiago) and the University of Frederico (Rio). Larry's role is to harmonize interviews and the collection of data across all five global hub sites so that the research teams can collect uniform data to facilitate the scale up of interventions worldwide.
Larry holds a doctoral degree from Boston University in Clinical Psychology. He was awarded a clinical fellowship at Harvard Medical School to work at the Massachusetts Mental Health Center and has received 8 early career awards for his work on stigma, 6 of which are national. Larry is a member of two prestigious editorial boards: the Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology Board of the Journal of the American Psychological Association, and the Stigma and Health Board of the Journal of the American Psychological Association. He has also authored publications in The Lancet, British Journal of Psychiatry, and the Journal of Abnormal Psychology.
BA, High Honors and Phi Beta Kappa, Wesleyan University, Middletown, CTPhD, Boston University, Boston, MAClinical Fellowship, Harvard Medical School-Massachusetts Mental Health Center
Award for Emerging Leadership, Americal Psychological Association (2012)Award for Advancing Minority Mental Health, American Psychiatric Foundation (2012)Young Investigator Award, NARSAD/ Brain and Behavior Foundation (2010)Emerging Leader Award for Significant Contributions to the Advancement of Ethnic Minority Psychology, American Psychological Association (2010)Calderone Award for Junior Faculty, Columbia University School of Public Health (2009)REACH for the R01 Award, Columbia University Irving Institute for Clinical and Translational Research (2009)Early Career Research Award, American Psychological Association (2008)Early Career Award, Asian American Psychological Association (2008)Dalmas A. Taylor Outstanding Student Dissertation Award, American Psychological Association (Division of Clinical Psychology- Ethnic Minority Focus) (2002)Outstanding Dissertation Award, American Psychological Association (Division of International Psychology) (2002)
Community HealthCultural Determinants of HealthEpidemiologyImmigrationMental HealthMinoritiesMinority HealthPsychologyStigma
A new brief opioid stigma scale to assess perceived public attitudes and internalized stigma: Evidence for construct validityYang, L., Grivel, M. M., Anderson, B., Bailey, G. L., Opler, M., Wong, L. Y., & Stein, M. D.
Journal titleJournal of Substance Abuse Treatment
Page(s)44-51One key strategy to improve treatment access for persons with opioid use disorder (OUD) is overcoming stigma that is internalized by such individuals. Because few theoretically-derived, multidimensional measures of substance abuse stigma exist, we contribute a brief, theoretically-based measure of opioid-related stigma (adapted from Corrigan's Self-Stigma of Mental Illness Scale) to assess perceived stigma and internalized stigma among individuals with OUD. This study presents initial validation of the newly-developed Brief Opioid Stigma Scale among 387 adults who entered an inpatient opioid managed-withdrawal program. The scale assesses: (1) Stereotype awareness (“Aware”), or the extent to which individuals who use opioids perceive community members to believe OUD-related stereotypes; (2) Stereotype agreement (“Agree”), or the endorsement of stigmatizing beliefs by individuals who use opioids; (3) Self-esteem decrement (“Harm”), or the diminution of self-esteem due to these negative stereotypes’ impacts on self-worth. Psychosocial measures including self-esteem, depressive symptoms, mental and physical functioning, and desire for aftercare OUD medication treatment, were administered to assess construct validity. Results showed that greater endorsement of the “harm” stigma subscale was associated with greater depressive symptoms, lower self-esteem, and poorer mental and physical functioning. The “aware” stigma subscale displayed similar overall patterns of associations with self-esteem and depression but to a lesser magnitude. The “aware” stigma subscale was positively associated with desire for aftercare methadone and naltrexone treatment, and the “harm” subscale was positively associated with desire for aftercare buprenorphine treatment. Results indicated good initial construct validity. Tailored stigma interventions are recommended for specific aftercare OUD medication treatments.
Impact of “psychosis risk” identification: Examining predictors of how youth view themselvesYang, L., Woodberry, K. A., Link, B. G., Corcoran, C. M., Bryant, C., Shapiro, D. I., Downing, D., Girgis, R. R., Brucato, G., Huang, D., Crump, F. M., Verdi, M., McFarlane, W. R., & Seidman, L. J.
Journal titleSchizophrenia ResearchBackground: Identifying young people as at clinical high-risk (CHR) for psychosis affords opportunities for intervention to possibly prevent psychosis onset. Yet such CHR identification could plausibly increase stigma. We do not know whether these youth already perceive themselves to be at psychosis-risk (PR) or how their being told they are at PR might impact how they think about themselves. Methods: 148 CHR youth were asked about labels they had been given by others (labeling by others) or with which they personally identified (self-labeling). They were then asked which had the greatest impact on how they thought about themselves. We evaluated whether being told vs. thinking they were at PR had stronger effects. Findings: The majority identified nonpsychotic disorders rather than PR labels as having the greatest impact on sense of self (67.6% vs. 27.7%). However, participants who identified themselves as at PR had an 8.8 (95% CI = 2.0-39.1) increase in the odds of the PR label having the greatest impact (p < 0.01). Additionally, having been told by others that they were at PR was associated with a 4.0 increase in odds (95% CI = 1.1-15.0) that the PR label had the most impact (p < 0.05). Interpretation: Nonpsychotic disorder labels appear to have a greater impact on CHR youth than psychosis-risk labels. However, thinking they are at PR, and, secondarily, being told they are at PR, appears to increase the relative impact of the PR label. Understanding self- and other-labeling may be important to how young people think of themselves, and may inform early intervention strategies.
Implementing a community-based task-shifting psychosocial intervention for individuals with psychosis in Chile: Perspectives from usersAgrest, M., Le, P. T. D., Yang, L., Mascayano, F., Alves-Nishioka, S., Dev, S., Kankan, T., Tapia-Muñoz, T., Sawyer, S., Toso-Salman, J., Dishy, G. A., Jorquera, M. J., Schilling, S., Pratt, C., Price, L. S., Valencia, E., Conover, S., Alvarado, R., & Susser, E. S.
Journal titleInternational Journal of Social Psychiatry
Page(s)38-45Background: Latin America, and Chile in particular, has a rich tradition of community mental health services and programs. However, in vivo community-based psychosocial interventions, especially those with a recovery-oriented approach, remain scarce in the region. Between 2014 and 2015, a Critical Time Intervention-Task Shifting project (CTI-TS) was implemented in Santiago, Chile, as part of a larger pilot randomized control trial. CTI is a time-limited intervention delivered at a critical-time to users, is organized by phases, focuses on specific objectives and decreases in intensity over time. CTI-TS, which combines both the task-shifting strategy and the use of peers, introduces a novel approach to community mental health care that has not yet been tried in Chile. Aims: We aim to evaluate the feasibility, acceptability and applicability of such a community-based psychosocial intervention in urban settings in Latin America – specifically, in Santiago (Chile) from a user perspective. Method: We analyzed 15 in-depth interviews (n = 15) with service users who participated in the intervention about their perceptions and experiences with CTI-TS through thematic analysis. Results: Three themes were revealed. The first was related to the structural characteristics of CTI-TS, especially regarding the timing, duration and phasic nature of the intervention. The second pertained to the acceptability of the in vivo community-based approach. The third theme dealt with the task-shifting aspect, that is, users’ perceptions of the peer support workers and the community mental health workers. Conclusions: CTI-TS was generally acceptable in this Latin American context. Users’ perspectives pointed to the need to make adjustments to some of the structural characteristics of the CTI model and to combine this type of intervention with others that can address stigma. Thus, future adaptations of CTI-TS or similar psychosocial interventions in Latin American contexts are feasible and can enhance community mental health in the region.
Mental health service use among asian americans five to six years after exposure to the world trade center attackKung, W. W., Goldmann, E., Liu, X., Wang, X., Huang, D., & Yang, L.
Journal titleSocial Service Review
Page(s)96-128This study uses World Trade Center Health Registry data, based on Andersen’s health-care model, to investigate 2,557 Asians’ mental health service use and associated factors 5–6 years after the World Trade Center attack, compared against 32,111 non-Hispanic white participants. We find that Asians had a lower proportion of service use (15.76 vs. 26.60 percent) than white people. A previous mental health diagnosis and perceived and evaluated mental health needs strongly predicted Asians’ mental health service use, as did having routine medical checkups, being female, and being married or cohabiting. These factors, in addition to other socioeconomic predictors that were nonsignificant among Asians, were significant among white people, as well. Our findings suggest that service providers need to provide clear diagnoses to service users, explore mental health needs during medical checkups, and provide postdisaster mental health education and free treatment.
Out of the silos: Identifying cross-cutting features of health-related stigma to advance measurement and interventionVan Brakel, W. H., Cataldo, J., Grover, S., Kohrt, B. A., Nyblade, L., Stockton, M., Wouters, E., & Yang, L.
Journal titleBMC Medicine
Issue1Background: Many health conditions perceived to be contagious, dangerous or incurable, or resulting in clearly visible signs, share a common attribute - an association with stigma and discrimination. While the etiology of stigma may differ between conditions and, sometimes, cultural settings, the manifestations and psychosocial consequences of stigma and discrimination are remarkably similar. However, the vast majority of studies measuring stigma or addressing stigma through interventions employ a disease-specific approach. Main body: The current paper opposes this siloed approach and advocates a generic concept of 'health-related stigma' in both stigma measurement and stigma interventions. Employing a conceptual model adapted from Weiss, the current paper demonstrates the commonalities among several major stigmatized conditions by examining how several stigma measurement instruments, such as the Social Distance Scale, Explanatory Model Interview Catalogue, Internalized Stigma of Mental Illness, and Berger stigma scale, and stigma reduction interventions, such as information-based approaches, contact with affected persons, (peer) counselling, and skills building and empowerment, were used successfully across a variety of conditions to measure or address stigma. The results demonstrate that 'health-related stigma' is a viable concept with clearly identifiable characteristics that are similar across a variety of stigmatized health conditions in very diverse cultures. Conclusion: A more generic approach to the study of health-related stigma opens up important practical opportunities - cross-cutting measurement and intervention tools are resource saving and easier to use for personnel working with multiple conditions, allow for comparison between conditions, and recognize the intersectionality of many types of stigma. Further research is needed to build additional evidence demonstrating the advantages and effectiveness of cross-condition approaches to stigma measurement and interventions.
Understanding the public's profile of mental health literacy in China: A nationwide studyHuang, D., Yang, L., & Pescosolido, B. A.
Journal titleBMC Psychiatry
Issue1Background: In the wake of China's massive economic development, attention has only recently turned to the enormous treatment gap that exists for mental health problems. Our study is the first comprehensive, national examination of the levels and correlates of the public's ability to recognize mental illness in the community and suggest sources of help, setting a baseline to assess contemporary Chinese efforts. Methods: Data were collected in China as part of the Stigma in Global Context - Mental Health Study (SGC-MHS) through face-to-face interviews using vignettes meeting clinical criteria for schizophrenia and major depression. Our analysis targets the Han Chinese participants (n = 1812). Differences in the recognition of mental health problems were assessed using a chi-square test and further stratified by vignette illness type and urban vs. rural residence. Adjusted regression models estimated the effects of each predictor towards the endorsement three types of help-seeking: medical doctor, psychiatrist, and mental health professional. Results: As expected, recognition of mental health problems is low; it is better for depression and most accurate in urban areas. Perceived severity increases endorsement of the need for care and for treatment by all provider types. Recognition of a mental health problem specifically decreases endorsement of medical doctors while increasing recommendations for psychiatrists and mental health professionals. Neurobiological attributions decrease recommendations for mental health professionals as opposed to general or specialty physicians. Conclusions: Continued efforts are needed in China to promote mental illness recognition within rural areas, and of schizophrenia specifically. Promoting recognition of mental illness, while balancing the special challenges among individuals who understand the neurobiological roots of mental illness, may constitute a key strategy to reduce the sizeable mental health treatment gap in China.
A predictive model for conversion to psychosis in clinical high-risk patientsCiarleglio, A. J., Brucato, G., Masucci, M. D., Altschuler, R., Colibazzi, T., Corcoran, C. M., Crump, F. M., Horga, G., Lehembre-Shiah, E., Leong, W., Schobel, S. A., Wall, M. M., Yang, L., Lieberman, J. A., & Girgis, R. R.
Journal titlePsychological Medicine
Page(s)1-10Background: The authors developed a practical and clinically useful model to predict the risk of psychosis that utilizes clinical characteristics empirically demonstrated to be strong predictors of conversion to psychosis in clinical high-risk (CHR) individuals. The model is based upon the Structured Interview for Psychosis Risk Syndromes (SIPS) and accompanying clinical interview, and yields scores indicating one's risk of conversion. Methods: Baseline data, including demographic and clinical characteristics measured by the SIPS, were obtained on 199 CHR individuals seeking evaluation in the early detection and intervention for mental disorders program at the New York State Psychiatric Institute at Columbia University Medical Center. Each patient was followed for up to 2 years or until they developed a syndromal DSM-4 disorder. A LASSO logistic fitting procedure was used to construct a model for conversion specifically to a psychotic disorder. Results: At 2 years, 64 patients (32.2%) converted to a psychotic disorder. The top five variables with relatively large standardized effect sizes included SIPS subscales of visual perceptual abnormalities, dysphoric mood, unusual thought content, disorganized communication, and violent ideation. The concordance index (c-index) was 0.73, indicating a moderately strong ability to discriminate between converters and non-converters. Conclusions: The prediction model performed well in classifying converters and non-converters and revealed SIPS measures that are relatively strong predictors of conversion, comparable with the risk calculator published by NAPLS (c-index = 0.71), but requiring only a structured clinical interview. Future work will seek to externally validate the model and enhance its performance with the incorporation of relevant biomarkers.
Criminal victimization and psychotic experiences: Cross-sectional associations in 35 low- and middle-income countriesDevylder, J. E., Kelleher, I., Oh, H., Link, B. G., Yang, L., & Koyanagi, A.
Journal titleActa Psychiatrica ScandinavicaObjective: Criminal victimization has been associated with elevated risk for psychotic symptoms in the United Kingdom, but has not been studied in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Understanding whether crime exposure may play a role in the social etiology of psychosis could help guide prevention and intervention efforts. Method: We tested the hypothesis that criminal victimization would be associated with elevated odds of psychotic experiences in 35 LMICs (N = 146 999) using cross-sectional data from the World Health Organization World Health Survey. Multivariable logistic regression analyses were used to test for associations between criminal victimization and psychotic experiences. Results: Victimization was associated with greater odds of psychotic experiences, OR (95% CI) = 1.72 (1.50-1.98), and was significantly more strongly associated with psychotic experiences in non-urban, OR (95% CI) = 1.93 (1.60-2.33), compared to urban settings, OR (95% CI) = 1.48 (1.21-1.81). The association between victimization and psychosis did not change across countries with varying aggregated levels of criminal victimization. Conclusions: In the largest ever study of victimization and psychosis, the association between criminal victimization and psychosis appears to generalize across a range of LMICs and, therefore, across nations with a broad range of crime rates, degree of urban development, average per capita income, and racial/ethnic make-up.
Depressive symptoms and their association with social determinants and chronic diseases in middle-aged and elderly Chinese peopleLiu, Q., Cai, H., Yang, L., Xiang, Y. B., Yang, G., Li, H., Gao, Y. T., Zheng, W., Susser, E., & Shu, X. O.
Journal titleScientific Reports
Issue1Depression is one of the most prevalent mental disorders worldwide. Little information is available regarding association of depressive symptoms (DS) with cancer and chronic diseases among middle-aged and elderly Chinese in a population-based setting. In this study we evaluated the prevalence and examined correlates of DS in two population-based cohort studies. Included in the analyses were 103,595 people with a mean age of 61.8 years at the DS assessment. The prevalence of DS was 2.4% in men and 5.6% in women. We found elderly participants, those with lower BMI, or chronic diseases were more likely to experience DS. Having a history of stroke (odds ratio (OR) = 2.2 in men and 1.8 in women), cancer (OR = 3.3 in men and 1.9 in women), or Parkinson's disease (OR = 3.1 in men and 2.7 in women) was associated with high DS. In women, high income and high education levels were inversely related to DS. Being a single woman, long-term or heavy female smoker was associated with high prevalence of DS. High BMI was correlated with low prevalence of depression in men. Our data suggests a low prevalence of DS among middle-aged and elderly people in Shanghai, China. Age, education, income, marital status, smoking, BMI, and certain health conditions were associated with DS.
Factors Related to the Probable PTSD after the 9/11 World Trade Center Attack among Asian AmericansKung, W. W., Liu, X., Huang, D., Kim, P., Wang, X., & Yang, L.
Journal titleJournal of Urban Health
Page(s)255-266Despite the fact that Asians constituted a sizeable proportion of those exposed to the World Trade Center attack on September 11, 2001 due to its proximity to Chinatown and many South Asians working in the nearby buildings, no study had focused on examining the mental health impact of the attack in this group. Based on data collected by the World Trade Center Health Registry from a sample of 4721 Asians 2–3 years after the disaster, this study provides a baseline investigation for the prevalence and the risk and protective factors for PTSD among Asian Americans directly exposed to the attack and compared this population against 42,862 non-Hispanic Whites. We found that Asians had a higher prevalence of PTSD compared to Whites (14.6 vs 11.7%). “Race-specific factors” significantly associated to PTSD in the multivariate analyses were noted among sociodemographics: higher education was protective for Whites but a risk factor for Asians; being employed was protective for Whites but had no effect for Asians; and being an immigrant was a risk factor for Whites but had no effect for Asians. However, income was a protective factor for both races. Other “universal factors” significantly increased the odds of PTSD symptoms but showed no racial differences, including exposure to the disaster and the presence of lower respiratory symptoms which intensified odds of PTSD by the greatest magnitude (3.6–3.9 times). Targeted effort to reach out to Asians is essential for prevention and follow up treatment given this group’s striking history of underutilization of mental health services.
Hidden suicidal ideation or intent among Asian American Pacific Islanders: A cultural phenomenon associated with greater suicide severityChu, J., Lin, M., Akutsu, P. D., Joshi, S. V., & Yang, L.
Journal titleAsian American Journal of Psychology
Page(s)262-269"Hidden suicidal ideation" (HSI)-the concealment or nondisclosure of suicidal distress to others-is often cited in suicide and ethnic minority research as a phenomenon that occurs frequently among ethnic minorities. Yet, there has been limited research to further understanding of this phenomenon, particularly in a within-group investigation among Asian American Pacific Islanders (AAPI). The aims of the current study were to characterize HSI in a community sample of 73 actively suicidal AAPI adults. Results indicated that a majority of participants (N = 44, 60.30%) hid their desire to kill themselves from others. A logistic regression showed that AAPI respondents who endorsed HSI reported greater severity of suicidal distress than their non-HSI counterparts and that HSI among AAPIs was associated with culturally salient suicide risk. These results provide critical information that highlights HSI as a "cultural phenomenon" (defined as having a relationship with cultural risk factors) and potential indicator of suicide disparities and may have implications for culturally responsive detection and management of suicide risk for AAPI populations. The current study represents the first dedicated examination of the phenomenon of HSI among AAPI individuals.
Measuring internalized stigma of mental illness among Chinese outpatients with mood disordersSmith, M. L., Yang, L., Huang, D., Pike, K. M., Yuan, C., & Wang, Z.
Journal titleInternational Journal of Culture and Mental Health
Page(s)1-14Internalized stigma is a barrier to mental health care in China, and stigma reduction is expected to promote treatment utilization, especially for mood disorders and schizophrenia. We aimed to identify the most common domains of internalized stigma of mental illness and to test the hypothesis that people with more severe mood disorders evidence more internalized stigma than those with less severe disorders. The Internalized Stigma of Mental Illness (ISMI) was administered to 366 outpatients with various mood disorders in Shanghai. Reliability statistics were calculated and frequently-endorsed items were identified. The magnitude of internalized stigma was compared among diagnostic categories and among sociodemographic groups. Except for stigma resistance, the ISMI and its subscales had good internal consistency. Across subgroups, stereotype endorsement was most commonly reported. Bipolar (versus depressive) disorders, male gender, and less education were associated with more internalized stigma, especially social withdrawal. Contrasting findings in Western countries, those with family history of mental illness trended toward more internalized stigma. We conclude that anti-stigma interventions should focus on reducing social withdrawal and stereotype endorsement, especially for those with more severe mood disorders, males, less educated individuals, and those with family history of mental illness.
Posttraumatic stress disorder in the short and medium term following the World Trade Center attack among Asian AmericansKung, W. W., Liu, X., Goldmann, E., Huang, D., Wang, X., Kim, K., Kim, P., & Yang, L.
Journal titleJournal of Community Psychology
Page(s)1075-1091This study investigated patterns of probable posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and their predictors among 2,431 Asian American and 31,455 non-Hispanic White World Trade Center (WTC) Registry participants 2-3 years and 5-6 years after the WTC attack. Participants were divided into four PTSD pattern groups: resilient, remitted, delayed onset, and chronic. Asians had a lower proportion in the resilient group (76.5% vs. 79.8%), a higher proportion in the chronic (8.6% vs. 7.4%) and remitted (5.9% vs. 3.4%) groups, and a similar proportion in the delayed onset group (about 9%) compared to Whites. In multinomial logistic regression analyses, disaster exposure, immigrant status, lower income, pre-attack depression/anxiety, and lower respiratory symptoms were associated with increased odds of chronic and delayed onset PTSD (vs. resilience) among both races. Education and employment were protective against chronic and delayed onset PTSD among Whites only. These results can inform targeted outreach efforts to enhance prevention and treatment for Asians affected by future events.
Understanding stigma as a barrier to accessing cancer treatment in South Africa: Implications for public health campaignsOystacher, T., Blasco, D., He, E., Huang, D., Schear, R., McGoldrick, D., Link, B., & Yang, L.
Journal titlePan African Medical Journal
Volume29Introduction: Cancer contributes to significant illness burden in South Africa, with delayed diagnosis resulting from limited knowledge of cancer, lack of biomedical treatment and stigma. This study examines ways in which people are identified as having cancer through perspectives of traditional healing or the biomedical model. Additionally, we sought to understand the stigma associated with cancer, including stereotypes, anticipated discrimination and coping styles. Methods: Livestrong Foundation conducted 11 semi-structured focus groups with key community stakeholders in three South African townships. Interviews examined the negative consequences of being labeled with a cancer diagnosis as well as causes of, possible prevention of and barriers and methods to improve access to cancer treatment. Analyses were completed using directed content analysis. Results: Revealed three main labeling mechanisms: physical appearance of perceived signs/symptoms of cancer, diagnosis by a traditional healer, or a biomedical diagnosis by a Western physician. Being labeled led to anticipated discrimination in response to prevalent cancer stereotypes. This contributed to delayed treatment, use of traditional healers instead of biomedical treatment and secrecy of symptoms and/or diagnosis. Further, perceptions of cancer were commonly conflated with HIV/TB owing to prior educational campaigns. Conclusion: Our study deepens the understanding of the cancer labeling process in South Africa and the resulting negative effects of stigma. Future anti-stigma interventions should partner with traditional healers due to their respected community status and consider how previous health interventions may significantly impact current understandings of illness.
Understanding the impact of community on the experience of suicide within the Lao Community: An expansion of the cultural model of suicideYang, L., Lam, J., Vega, E., Martinez, M., Botcheva, L., Hong, J. E., Chu, J., & Lewis, S. E.
Journal titleAsian American Journal of Psychology
Page(s)284-295There is a dearth in the scientific literature examining community factors of suicide in a theoretically grounded manner, in particular for Asian American groups. This study used the cultural model of suicide to examine the experience of suicide for a Lao group in California. Interviews were conducted with focus groups and community leaders pooled from the Center for Lao Studies, and then coded using a direct content analysis, in tandem with an inductive approach. The results revealed areas in which the community had a notable impact and shaped suicide risk within the Lao group. The findings also highlighted the need for additions to the current cultural model of suicide to reflect the impact of these community factors.
Using information and communication technologies to prevent suicide among secondary school students in two regions of Chile: A randomized controlled trialMascayano, F., Schilling, S., Tapia, E., Santander, F., Burrone, M. S., Yang, L., & Alvarado, R.
Journal titleFrontiers in Psychiatry
Volume9Background: There is an increasing concern for addressing suicide among adolescents in Latin America. Recent mental health policies encourage the development and implementation of preventive interventions for suicide. Such initiatives, however, have been scarcely developed, even in countries with solid mental health services such as Chile. The use of information and communications technology (ICT) might contribute to create accessible, engaging, and innovative platforms to promote well-being and support for adolescents with mental health needs and suicide risk. Objective: To evaluate a program based on ICT to prevent suicide and enhance mental health among adolescents in Chile. Method: A cluster randomized controlled trial (RCT) will be conducted including 428 high-school students aged 18-14 years in two regions of Chile. Study procedures will take place as follows: (1) design of the intervention model and creation of prototype; (2) selection and randomization of the participating public schools; (3) implementation of the 3-month intervention and evaluation at baseline, post-intervention period, and a 2-month follow-up. Suicidal ideation at the 2-month follow up is the primary outcome in this study. Secondary outcomes include negative psychological outcomes (e.g., stigma, depression, anxiety) as well as a number of protective psychological and social factors. Indicators regarding the study implementation will be also gathered. Discussion: Here we describe a novel program based on technological devices and aimed to target youth suicide in Chile. This is the first clinical trial of such a program in Latin America, and to our knowledge, the first of its kind in any middle income country.
Advances in the cultural assessment of stigma to promote global mental healthYang, L., Sia, K., & Yang, L. In Stigma Towards Mental Illness: a Public Health Challengs.
Baseline demographics, clinical features and predictors of conversion among 200 individuals in a longitudinal prospective psychosis-risk cohortBrucato, G., Masucci, M. D., Arndt, L. Y., Ben-David, S., Colibazzi, T., Corcoran, C. M., Crumbley, A. H., Crump, F. M., Gill, K. E., Kimhy, D., Lister, A., Schobel, S. A., Yang, L., Lieberman, J. A., & Girgis, R. R.
Journal titlePsychological Medicine
Page(s)1-13Background: DSM-5 proposes an Attenuated Psychosis Syndrome (APS) for further investigation, based upon the Attenuated Positive Symptom Syndrome (APSS) in the Structured Interview for Psychosis-Risk Syndromes (SIPS). SIPS Unusual Thought Content, Disorganized Communication and Total Disorganization scores predicted progression to psychosis in a 2015 NAPLS-2 Consortium report. We sought to independently replicate this in a large single-site high-risk cohort, and identify baseline demographic and clinical predictors beyond current APS/APSS criteria. Method: We prospectively studied 200 participants meeting criteria for both the SIPS APSS and DSM-5 APS. SIPS scores, demographics, family history of psychosis, DSM Axis-I diagnoses, schizotypy, and social and role functioning were assessed at baseline, with follow-up every 3 months for 2 years. Results: The conversion rate was 30% (n = 60), or 37.7% excluding participants who were followed under 2 years. This rate was stable across time. Conversion time averaged 7.97 months for 60% who developed schizophrenia and 15.68 for other psychoses. Mean conversion age was 20.3 for males and 23.5 for females. Attenuated odd ideas and thought disorder appear to be the positive symptoms which best predict psychosis in a logistic regression. Total negative symptom score, Asian/Pacific Islander and Black/African-American race were also predictive. As no Axis-I diagnosis or schizotypy predicted conversion, the APS is supported as a distinct syndrome. In addition, cannabis use disorder did not increase risk of conversion to psychosis. Conclusions: NAPLS SIPS findings were replicated while controlling for clinical and demographic factors, strongly supporting the validity of the SIPS APSS and DSM-5 APS diagnosis.
Impact of lifetime traumatic experiences on suicidality and likelihood of conversion in a cohort of individuals at clinical high-risk for psychosisGrivel, M. M., Leong, W., Masucci, M. D., Altschuler, R. A., Arndt, L. Y., Redman, S. L., Yang, L., Brucato, G., & Girgis, R. R.
Journal titleSchizophrenia ResearchRecent research suggests that trauma history (TH) is a strong socio-environmental risk factor for the development of psychosis. While reported rates of childhood trauma are higher among individuals at clinical high-risk (CHR) for psychosis than in the general population, little research has explored the effects of trauma upon the severity of attenuated positive symptoms. We aimed to explore the specific relationships between TH and baseline symptom severity; likelihood of conversion to full-blown psychosis; suicidal ideation (SI); and suicidal behavior (SB) in a cohort of 200 help-seeking CHR individuals. Participants were evaluated every three months for up to two years using the Structured Interview for Psychosis-Risk Syndromes (SIPS). More trauma history was reported by females and Hispanic/Latino participants, while age and race did not significantly distinguish those with and without TH. Individuals with TH reported higher rates of SI and SB than those without. While TH was positively associated with several SIPS subscales, including Unusual Thought Content, Perceptual Abnormalities/Hallucinations, Bizarre Thinking, Sleep Disturbances, and Dysphoric Mood, and negatively associated with Expressed Emotion, results indicated that TH was not significantly related to conversion to psychosis. Moreover, baseline SI was unrelated to conversion and baseline DSM diagnosis, with the exception of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). These results suggest that traumatic experiences may significantly impact the severity of attenuated positive symptoms and suicidality in the CHR state, providing new windows for further research and potential intervention.
The family economic status and outcome of people with schizophrenia in Xinjin, Chengdu, China: 14-year follow-up studyRan, M. S., Yang, L., Liu, Y. J., Huang, D., Mao, W. J., Lin, F. R., Li, J., & Chan, C. L. W.
Journal titleInternational Journal of Social Psychiatry
Page(s)203-211Background: Little is known about whether family economic status might influence the long-term (e.g. over 10 years) outcome of persons with schizophrenia in the community. Aim: To examine the differences in outcome at 14-year follow-up of persons with schizophrenia from high versus low family economic status backgrounds in a Chinese rural area. Method: A prospective 14-year follow-up study was conducted in six townships in Xinjin County, Chengdu, China. All participants with schizophrenia (n = 510) were identified in an epidemiological investigation of 123,572 people aged 15 years and older and followed up from 1994 to 2008. Results: Individuals from low family economic status (<mean) in 1994 had significantly higher rate of homelessness (9.9%) and lower rate of survival (63.8%) in 2008 than those from high family economic status (3/4mean; 3.2% and 76.6%, respectively). Individuals from low family economic status had significantly lower rates of marriage and complete remission, higher mean scores on Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS) and lower mean score on Global Assessment of Functioning (GAF) than those from high family economic status in 2008. The predictors of low family economic status of individuals in 2008 encompassed the baseline low family economic status, poor families' attitude toward the patient, younger age, older age of first onset and longer duration of illness. Conclusion: Low family economic status is a predictive factor of poor long-term outcome of persons with schizophrenia in the rural community. Individuals' family economic status should be considered in making mental health policy and providing community-based mental health services.
The importance of symbolic interaction in mental illness stigmaHe, E., Yang, L., & Link, B. G. In Stigma Towards Mental Illness: A Public Health Challenge.
The role of culture in population mental health: prevalence of mental disorders among Asian and Asian american populationsYang, L., & Benson, J. In Handbook of Cultural Neuroscience.
Violating clan and kinship roles as risk factors for suicide and stigma among lao refugees: An application of the cultural model of suicide and “what matters most” frameworksMandavia, A., Huang, D., Wong, J., Ruiz, B., Crump, F., Shen, J., Martinez, M., Botcheva, L., Vega, E., Chu, J., Lewis, S., & Yang, L.
Journal titleIsrael Journal of Psychiatry and Related Sciences
Page(s)39-49Background: While Asian groups have immigrated worldwide, suicide risk models have neglected to integrate cultural components. This study incorporates how stigma associated with failure to uphold clan/kinship roles can increase suicide risk in highly-marginalized Lao-Americans. Methods: One focus group with five Lao participants and 21 individual semi-structured interviews with community family members were conducted. Transcripts were coded via directed content analysis using the “What Matters Most” and Cultural Theory of Suicide frameworks. Results: Violating role-expectations associated with youth, adults and older adults appears to be associated with risk for suicide. This suggests that the failure of adults to fulfill their roles might potentially threaten loss of “full personhood” and trigger stigma, thus potentially evoking greater suicide risk. Conclusion: Interventions would benefit from cultural considerations of fulfilling role-expectations and “personhood” to combat suicide and stigma within cultural communities.
attitudes toward judicial lenience and government assistance for individuals with mental illness: A comparison of Chinese and European AmericansHuang, D., Yang, L., Wonpat-Borja, A., Lam, J., Link, B. G., & Phelan, J. C.
Journal titleJournal of Community Psychology
Attitudes Towards the Mentally Ill: A Study with Health Workers at a University Hospital in Rio de JaneiroSiqueira, S. R. G., Abelha, L., Lovisi, G. M., Sarução, K. R., & Yang, L.
Journal titlePsychiatric Quarterly
Page(s)1-14As there are few studies about evaluation of attitudes of health care workers to people with mental disorders in Brazil, a cross-sectional study was carried out to assess the health professionals’ attitudes working in a university hospital in Rio de Janeiro and also examine the proportion of negative and positive attitudes endorsed by healthcare professionals in Brazil towards people with mental illness in comparison with other parts of the world. Data were collected using the Community Attitudes towards the Mentally Ill (CAMI) in a random sampling frame of health professionals (n = 246) working in a University Hospital in Rio de Janeiro between April 2013 and June 2013. The CAMI consists of four sub-scales: Authoritarianism, Benevolence, Social Restrictiveness and Community Mental Health Ideology. The results showed attitudes that range from neutral to positive, with the Benevolence and Social Restrictiveness sub-scales showing the least stigmatizing results. The following individual characteristics were associated with negative attitudes: lower levels of education and less clinical experience. In general, health workers attitudes towards service users are characterized as positive when compared with other international studies. However, educational programs for health workers should be reinforced to further promote pre-existing positive attitudes towards people with mental health and the implementation of Brazilian Mental Health Policies.