Forest Student Publishes Manuscript

Forest doctoral student Gage Stermensky II and associate professor Peter Jaberg publish "Consumer Attitudes Toward Mental Health Treatment" in Media Psychology Review

The purpose of this study was to identify consumer knowledge and beliefs towards medical and mental health treatment providers and facilities, and how these attitudes and beliefs influence treatment decisions about pharmacological versus cognitive behavioral interventions for a fictitious disorder.


The researchers created a 67-item survey for the purposes of this study. The research questions, hypotheses, and current barriers identified in evaluating modern research on attitudes, stigmatization, and the like as related to treatment preferences among consumers guided survey construction. Following inclusion criteria validation, participants answered an attitudinal portion of the survey consisting of open and closed ended questions (coded for emergent themes by three independent coders) exploring opinions and experiences related to medical and mental health treatment (pre-vignette). Internal consistency was excellent for both the medical (α = 0.75) and mental health (α = 0.78) scales. Participants then viewed a randomly assigned vignette in an embedded video file with a post-vignette portion of the survey (Stermensky, 2011). Following observation of the randomly assigned vignette, participants completed the treatment preference survey based upon their understanding of Benson's syndrome. The last section of the survey included demographic items.


The researchers implemented paired t-tests to test statistical hypotheses regarding mean preference scores for section one (familiarity with facility resources and dimensions of care) and section two (ratings of personnel resources) medical and mental health scores (i.e., repeated measures). The mean medical prevignette preference score (M = 5.74, SD = 7.27) was significantly greater (t [123] = 1.87, p = < .001) than the mean mental health prevignette preference score (M = 3.87, SD = 7.27). These results suggest that participants overall had a more positive attitude towards medical treatment, staff, and facilities than for mental health resources (d = .26). Qualitative results supported the quantitative findings. Participants indicated an amplified level of trust and familiarity with medical treatment facilities. Participants also indicated side effects, effectiveness, and personal treatment views as deterrents for psychopharmacological mental health treatments.


Based upon these findings, it would seem the implementation of national advertising campaigns for evidenced based psychological practices would increase exposure and create a more informed consumer population. Whether health professionals, namely psychologists and physicians advertise jointly or separately, evidenced based information must be used to fully inform patients of their treatment choices, or else the adequacy of informed consent is being compromised at every level of care. The authors discuss implications for advertising, changes to direct to consumer advertising, and increasing public awareness of evidenced based practices in behavioral and psychological interventions.