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Year : 2022  |  Volume : 36  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 12-18

Prevalence and correlates of negative disposition to marital homogamy among a sample of psychiatric outpatients in Nigeria

Department of Mental Health, University of Benin Teaching Hospital, Ugbowo, Benin City, Nigeria

Correspondence Address:
Samuel O Osasona
Department of Mental Health, University of Benin Teaching Hospital, Ugbowo, Benin City
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/TPSY.TPSY_2_22

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Objective: Persons with mental illness (PWMI) have reduced chances of getting married to individuals without mental illness, yet, so much controversy surrounds the propriety or otherwise of a psychiatric patient marrying another psychiatric patient (marital homogamy). The factors that are associated with patients' disposition towards homogamy have received little attention from researchers, creating a gap in literature. In this study, I intended to examine the proportion of psychiatric patients that are negatively disposed towards marrying another psychiatric patient and to find the factors that are associated with their disposition. Methods: A descriptive cross-sectional design was used, and participants included 208 consecutive attendees at the psychiatric outpatient clinic of a tertiary hospital in Benin City, Nigeria. Data were collected from the participants using a sociodemographic data collection sheet and three standard instruments - the Bogardus Social Distance Scale, the World Psychiatric Association Stigma Questionnaire, and the Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale. Results: About two-thirds of the patients (67.3%) were not willing to marry a psychiatric patient, citing concerns about heredity of mental illness; potential financial difficulty and lack of social/spousal support; and perceived dangerousness of psychiatric patients as the reasons. About two-thirds of them desired moderate to high social distance from another psychiatric patient. Three factors - the desire for low social distance (p < 0.001), belief that marriage is a necessity in life (p < 0.001), and belief that people with mental illness who recovered are eligible to marry (p < 0.001) - significantly differentiated between patients who were willing to marry a psychiatric patient and those not willing. Conclusion: Many patients in this study expressed a negative disposition toward marrying a psychiatric patient, yet previous researchers reported that they have reduced chances of marrying persons without mental illness. Appropriate intervention to address the factors that are related to their negative disposition may change their disposition and increase their chances of getting married, either to a nonmentally ill individual or a PWMI if they must not remain single all their life.

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