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Contact:     Joy Leffler, MLA, NASW, CSE
CME Outfitters, LLC
614.328.4524 direct
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The Stigma of Mental Illness: Physicians Intervene to Improve Quality of Life for People Living with Mental Illness

ROCKVILLE, MD - March 28, 2011

According to a Compass Points™ article written by Christina J. Ansted, MPH, CCMEP, Medical Program Director at CME Outfitters (CMEO), an estimated 50 million Americans experience a mental disorder in any given year; however, only 25% actually receive mental health and other services.(1) A common barrier to care is the stigma of mental illness, both internal (e.g., self-stigma) and external (e.g., society- or provider-based). Whether the stigma is perceived or real, it negatively affects outcomes for these patients. The profound, palpable effect of stigma on medication adherence is particularly critical because patients who do not persist with treatment will not see their conditions improve. Therefore, interventions that reduce stigma and improve adherence to treatment plans would also alleviate undue suffering and improve quality of life (QoL) for patients with mental disorders.(2) Unfortunately, physicians may not always use these valuable interventions, or, in some cases, may not be aware their existence.

After identifying stigma's significant burden on QoL for people with mental illness, CME Outfitters created a Compass Points™ CME activity entitled Medication Adherence in Patients with Mental Illness - The Impact of Stigma. The learning objectives included: 1) articulation of the value of addressing stigmatization and its resultant effects on nonadherence; 2) implementation of strategies to counteract the negative effects of stigma on adherence for patients with mental illness and 3) utilization of appropriate models of intervention to facilitate long-term treatment adherence supported by validated measurement and assessment tools.

CME Outfitters conducted a poll of learners before they actually participated in the activity and then recontacted these same physicians after they completed the activity. Learners were asked to estimate or rate how often they addressed the issue of stigma as a separate and important marker worthy of individual attention. Before participating in activity, 58% of learners said that they always or often addressed the issue of stigma with their patients. In the post-content activity poll, 91% of learners said that they now address the issue of stigma; this represents a 33% increase in this sample audience! In addition, 88% told CMEO that they were interested in educational activities that focus on stigma as a barrier to optimal patient care and outcomes for patients with mental illness.

This simple recontact method provided CMEO with valuable information about how clinicians address the issue of stigma in their patients with mental illness. In addition, this method of post-activity polling also provided excellent fodder for analysis of remaining gaps in clinical care and the target audience's willingness to embrace changes that improve patients' quality of life and health outcomes. To participate in Medication Adherence in Patients with Mental Illness - The Impact of Stigma, join your peers at

About CME Outfitters:
CME Outfitters is a certified women-owned enterprise that develops and distributes live, recorded, print, and web-based educational activities to thousands of clinicians each year. An accredited provider with Accreditation with Commendation, CME Outfitters offers expert accreditation services for non-accredited organizations. For a complete catalog of certified activities, please visit,, or call 877.CME.PROS (877.263.7767).

  1. Connecticut Clearinghouse and the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS). Stigma and mental illness. Available at Stigma and Mental Illness - Connecticut Clearinghouse. Accessed December 15, 2010.
  2. National Institutes of Health. Research on Adherence to Interventions for Mental Disorders. PA-03-111. Washington, DC: National Institutes of Health; 2003. Accessed February 23, 2011.



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