Introduction: It has been extensively documented that caregivers of persons who have serious and persistent mental disorders must successfully cope with many challenging problems in order to provide good care. However, little is known about the relationship between family stigma and strategies for coping with patients with schizophrenia. Therefore, the present study compared the personal stigma and coping strategies of families of patients with schizophrenia by examining the socio-cultural factors that affect the care experience of families in Northeast Asian countries. Methods: Two self-rating scales were used to compare personal stigma and coping strategies regarding family members of patients with schizophrenia in 47 Japanese and 92 Korean families. Respondents reported their personal attitudes (personal stigma) with respect to a case vignette that described a person with chronic schizophrenia. Results: Analysis revealed the following: 1) although no differences in coping strategies were observed between the countries, the personal stigma of families was significantly higher in Korea than in Japan; 2) coping strategies, such as positive communication, coercion, and avoidance, were significantly associated with personal stigma in Korean families; however, in Japanese families, resignation was significantly associated with personal stigma. Discussion: The present findings suggest that personal family stigma was higher in Korea than Japan, and the features associated with coping strategies differ between countries. It is important to determine the features of personal stigma that are associated with schizophrenia. Furthermore, education and support programs for families with schizophrenia based on trans-cultural considerations must be emphasized in both countries.
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