Stigmatization (Health Coverage)




framing, stigmatization, mental health, media coverage


Media descriptions of mental illness and the mentally ill are often characterized by stigmatization. For example, in media coverage mental illnesses are often associated with crimes and violence (Ma, 2017). In consequence, patients are presented not only as peculiar and different, but also as dangerous. Thus, the media maintain misconceptions and stigma (Klin & Lemish, 2008; Srivastava et al., 2018).

Field of application/theoretical foundation:

Health communication, anti-stigma communication, anti-stigma research, stigmatization

Example studies:

Carpiniello et al. (2007); McGinty et al. (2014)


Information on Carpiniello et al. 2007

Authors: Bernardo Carpiniello, Roberta Girau, Maria Germana Orrù

Research questions: The study explores the portrayal of mental illness in Italy’s leading national and regional newspapers, asking whether a different pattern emerged in describing criminal offences committed by the mentally ill in reports relating to homicides, suicide, and other acts of violence.

Object of analysis: The total sample included N = 2279 all articles relating to homocides, suicides or attempted suicides as well as acts of violence in two leading Italian newspapers (Corriere della Sera, n = 387 and La Repubblica, n = 375) and the two leading regional newspapers (L'Unione Sarda, n = 783 and La Nuova Sardegna, n = 733)

Time frame of analysis: October 2002 to March 2003

Info about variables

Variables: For each article it was coded whether or not the criminal offence had been attributed to a mentally ill person (actions were deemed to have been attributed to the mentally ill only when clearly stated or strongly alluded to by the author of the article) as well as use of stigmatizing language (Penrose-Wall et al., 1999)

Reliability: No information

Level of analysis: News article


  • Homicide
  • Suicide
  • Attempted suicide
  • Homicide + suicide
  • Sex-related violence
  • Other violent acts

Attribution to a mentally ill person

  • yes
  • no

Stigmatizing language

  • Fool/ foolishness
  • Monster/ monstrosity
  • Maniac/ maniacality
  • Mad/ madness
  • Insane/ insanity
  • Lunatic



Carpiniello, B., Girau, R., & Orrù, M. G. (2007). Mass-media, violence and mental illness. Evidence from some Italian newspapers. Epidemiologia E Psichiatria Sociale, 16(3), 251–255.

Klin, A., & Lemish, D. (2008). Mental disorders stigma in the media: Review of studies on production, content, and influences. Journal of Health Communication, 13(5), 434–449.

Ma, Z. (2017). How the media cover mental illnesses: a review. Health Education, 117(1), 90–109.

McGinty, E. E., Webster, D. W., Jarlenski, M., & Barry, C. L. (2014). News media framing of serious mental illness and gun violence in the United States, 1997-2012. American Journal of Public Health, 104(3), 406–413.

Penrose-Wall, J., Baume, P., & Martin, G. (1999). Achieving the balance: A resource kit for Australian media professionals for the reporting and portrayal of suicide and mental illnesses. Publications Production Unit (Public Affairs, Parliamentary and Access Branch), Commonwealth Dept. of Health and Aged Care.

Srivastava, K., Chaudhury, S., Bhat, P. S., & Mujawar, S. (2018). Media and mental health. Industrial Psychiatry Journal, 27(1), 1–5.



How to Cite

Reifegerste, D., & Wiedicke, A. (2021). Stigmatization (Health Coverage). DOCA - Database of Variables for Content Analysis, 1(2).



News/Journalism: Variables for Content Analysis