A cross-cultural study of employers' concerns about hiring people with psychotic disorder: Implications for recovery

Wing Hong Hector Tsang, Beth Angell, Patrick W. Corrigan, Yueh Ting Lee, Kan Shi, Chow S. Lam, Shenghua Jin, Kevin M.T. Fung

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

106 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: Employment discrimination is considered as a major impediment to community integration for people with serious mental illness, yet little is known about how the problem manifests differently across western and non-western societies. We developed a lay model based on Chinese beliefs and values in terms of Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism, and folk religions which may be used to explain cross-cultural variation in mental illness stigma, particularly in the arena of employment discrimination. In this study, we tested this lay approach by comparing employers' concerns about hiring people with psychotic disorder for entry-level jobs in US and China. Method: One hundred employers (40 from Chicago, 30 from Hong Kong, and 30 from Beijing) were randomly recruited from small size firms and interviewed by certified interviewers using a semi-structured interview guide designed for this study. Content analysis was used to derive themes, which in turn were compared across the three sites using chi-square tests. Results: Analyses reveal that employers express a range of concerns about hiring an employee with mental illness. Although some concerns were raised with equal frequency across sites, comparisons showed that, relative to US employers, Chinese employers were significantly more likely to perceive that people with mental illness would exhibit a weaker work ethic and less loyalty to the company. Comparison of themes also suggests that employers in China were more people-oriented while employers in US were more task-oriented. Conclusion: Cultural differences existed among employers which supported the lay theory of mental illness.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)723-733
Number of pages11
JournalSocial Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2007


  • Cross-cultural differences
  • Employment
  • Lay theory
  • Psychotic disorder
  • Recovery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Health(social science)
  • Social Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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