Embarrassment when illness strikes a close relative: A world mental health survey consortium multi-site study

B. K. Ahmedani, S. P. Kubiak, R. C. Kessler, R. De Graaf, J. Alonso, R. Bruffaerts, Z. Zarkov, M. C. Viana, Y. Q. Huang, C. Hu, J. A. Posada-Villa, J. P. Lepine, M. C. Angermeyer, G. De Girolamo, A. N. Karam, M. E. Medina-Mora, O. Gureje, F. Ferry, R. Sagar, J. C. Anthony

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background In this global study we sought to estimate the degree to which a family member might feel embarrassed when a close relative is suffering from an alcohol, drug, or mental health condition (ADMC) versus a general medical condition (GMC). To date, most studies have considered embarrassment and stigma in society and internalized by the afflicted individual but have not assessed family embarrassment in a large-scale study. Method In 16 sites of the World Mental Health Surveys (WMHS), standardized assessments were completed including items on family embarrassment. Site matching was used to constrain local socially shared determinants of stigma-related feelings, enabling a conditional logistic regression model that estimates the embarrassment close relatives may hold in relation to family members affected by an ADMC, a GMC, or both conditions. Results There was a statistically robust association such that subgroups with an ADMC-affected relative were more likely to feel embarrassed compared to subgroups with a relative affected by a GMC (pÂ

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2191-2202
Number of pages12
JournalPsychological Medicine
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2013


  • Family embarrassment
  • psychiatric conditions
  • stigma
  • World Mental Health Surveys

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Applied Psychology
  • Medicine(all)


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