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Title: A cross-sectional assessment of children's attitudes towards ADHD, depression and learning disabilities in a school setting
Author: Bellanca, Faye
Awarding Body: University of London
Current Institution: University of London
Date of Award: 2011
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The principal aim of this research was to investigate primary school children's conative and cognitive attitudes towards children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Depression and Learning Disabilities (LD). It is suggested that if children's attitudes towards ADHD, Depression and LD are better understood, steps can be taken to reduce the negative impact and consequences of stigma on children with these difficulties (e.g. Corrigan & Watson, 2002; Wahl, 1999). Secondary, exploratory research aims were to assess, a) the relationship between children's own conative attitudes and their perceived parental and peer conative attitudes and, b) investigate whether there were any relationships between children's own conative and cognitive attitudes and demographic variables (e.g. gender). The research involved 273 primary school children aged between 7-11 years. The children heard a vignette describing a child with ADHD, Depression, LD or a 'normal' child. They then completed the Shared Activities Questionnaire (SAQ - Morgan, Walker, Bieberich & Bell, 1996), to assess the conative component of attitudes and the Adjective Checklist (ACL - Siperstein, 1980; 2006), to assess the cognitive component of attitudes. This research utilised a mixed, between groups design involving a cross- sectional assessment of attitudes across four groups (ADHD, Depression, LD 4 and a normal child) using two dependant variables (SAQ and ACL). Repeated measures were utilised to determine relationships between children's own and perceived parental and peer attitudes using the SAQ. Results showed that children had more negative conative and cognitive attitudes overall towards the ADHD, Depression and LD vignettes compared to the normal vignette. Children had more negative conative and cognitive attitudes towards the ADHD vignette than the LD vignette and more negative cognitive attitudes towards the Depression vignette than the LD vignette; hence, generally they displayed more negative attitudes to Mental Health Difficulties (MHD - ADHD and Depression) than LD. Finally, children had more negative conative and cognitive attitudes towards the ADHD (externalising disorder) vignette than the Depression vignette (internalising disorder). With regards to the exploratory aspects of the research, age and perceived levels of contact were found to impact on attitudes. The younger children (7 - 9 years) had more positive conative attitudes towards all of the vignettes when compared to the older children (9.1 - 11.4 years). Children who felt they had contact in the past with children similar to the vignette had more positive conative and cognitive attitudes than those who felt they had had no contact. There were no differences found between the children's own conative attitudes and their perceptions of their parental and peer conative attitudes. 5 -~ The research findings suggest that stigmatised attitudes towards children with ADHD, Depression and LD remain in schools, despite government attempts to promote inclusion and acceptance. The study findings can enhance current stigma reduction interventions, through contributing a deeper understanding Of children's conative and cognitive attitudes towards the most common MHD and LD in childhood.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available