Pharmacists' beliefs about treatments and outcomes of mental disorders: A mental health literacy survey

Claire L O'Reilly, John Simon Frederick Bell, Timothy F. Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

59 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: To assess the beliefs of pharmacists about the helpfulness of interventions for schizophrenia and depression. Methods: A survey instrument containing a measure of mental health literacy was mailed to a random sample of 2000 pharmacists registered with the Pharmacy Board of New South Wales in November 2009. Vignettes of a person with either depression or psychosis were presented, followed by questions related to the recognition of the disorder, the helpfulness of various interventions, prognosis with and without professional help, the person's long-term functioning in various social roles and the likelihood of the person being discriminated against. Results: A total of 391 responses were received (response rate 19.5%). The majority of pharmacists correctly identified depression (92%) with fewer recognizing schizophrenia (79%). Pharmacists rated medicine use highly for both schizophrenia and depression but were also positive about the use of psychological therapies and lifestyle interventions. Pharmacists had negative views about admission to a psychiatric ward and the use of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). However, younger pharmacists had significantly more positive views on the use of ECT (p = 0.001). The majority of pharmacists (74%) thought discrimination by the community was highly likely and rated long-term prognosis as poor without appropriate professional help. Their views on the likelihood of specific negative outcomes were mixed, with many pharmacists not recognizing the risk of suicide in schizophrenia and depression. However, both female (p = 0.002) and younger pharmacists (p < 0.001) were significantly more inclined to rate the likelihood of suicide as more likely in a person with schizophrenia or depression. Conclusions: The majority of pharmacists had a high degree of mental health literacy as indicated by the correct identification of, and support for evidence-based interventions for mental illnesses. Pharmacists should be aware that their attitudes and stigma towards mental illness may impact on the patient care they provide.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1089-1096
Number of pages8
JournalAustralian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • attitudes
  • depression
  • mental health literacy
  • pharmacists
  • schizophrenia

Cite this