Discriminatory behavior of family physicians toward a person with Alzheimer's disease

Perla Werner, Shmuel M. Giveon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: It has been anecdotally suggested that health care professionals have stigmatic beliefs about persons with Alzheimer's disease (AD). However, the nature and prevalence of those beliefs have yet to be elucidated. The aim of the present study is to examine stigma towards a person with AD among primary care physicians. Methods: A nationally representative sample of 501 family physicians (54.1% female, mean age = 49, mean years in the profession = 21) were interviewed using a computer-assisted telephone interview and a structured questionnaire based on an expanded version of attribution theory. Results: The findings showed that physicians' discriminatory behavior was especially high in the dimension of avoidance and coercion, but low in the dimension of segregation. Two central emotions (anger-fear and pity) were found to affect participants' tendency to discriminate, as were attributions of dangerousness. Conclusions: Addressing these factors may require targeted education of health professionals as well as the enforcement of anti-discrimination policies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)824-839
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Psychogeriatrics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2008


  • Dementia
  • Discrimination
  • Primary care physicians
  • Stigma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Gerontology


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