Best Practices / Research Oral Abstract

Utilizing Theatre to Modify Stigma: A Knowledge Translation Study in Bipolar Disorder (O049)

Sagar Parikh (University of Toronto); Erin Michalak (University of British Columbia); Victoria Maxwell (Crazy for Life Company); Jamie Livingston (BC Mental Health and Addiction Services)


Both people who live with bipolar disorder (BD) and researchers acknowledge that mental illness stigma can be a very real barrier to quality of life and health. The Mental Health Commission of Canada prioritizes stigma and emphasizes the creation of knowledge translation (KT) mechanisms to improve stigma outcomes. As part of a KT study, we developed interventions designed to depict and modify both public and internalized stigma in BD.


We developed, disseminated, and evaluated a new play by established playwright and actress Victoria Maxwell (who lives with BD) to illustrate how internalized and public stigma manifest through theatrical performance. A key innovation in our KT approach is that people with BD and providers viewed the play together, with parallel outcome assessments both immediately after the play and 3 months later.


The first intervention, a theatrical performance called ‘That’s Just Crazy Talk’ was premiered in Vancouver and Toronto in July 2011. Research participants included 65 BD health care providers, 54 people with BD and 3 individuals who identified as both, with over 100 additional audience members. A mix of quantitative and qualitative outcomes, ranging from satisfaction and scores on standardized stigma scales to qualitative interviews, were assessed.


Beyond traditional psychosocial outcome measures, measurement of stigma and the initial impact of stigma reduction techniques in BD were demonstrated for the first time; the use of theatrical performance for knowledge translation was also demonstrated and evaluated.


None. Project Funded by Canadian Institutes for Health Research.