Disability stigma and intention to graduate in college students with psychiatric impairments

Date of Award


Degree Name

Ph.D. in Educational Leadership


Department of Educational Leadership


Advisor: Charles J. Russo


This study investigated the impact of disability type on perceived disability-related stigma, as measured by the Postsecondary Student Survey of Disability-Related Stigma (PSSDS) in 55 students with disabilities at a medium-sized private mid-western university. In addition, the study explored disability-associated factors related to intention to graduate. The study consisted of two data analysis strategies. First, I conducted five independent samples t-tests to determine if there were significant differences in perceived stigma scores between students with psychiatric impairments compared to those with other types of impairments. Second, I conducted a hierarchical multiple regression to determine the unique and combined variance in intent to graduate scores explained by accommodation use, stigma, and disability type variables. Previous research reports that college students with impairments, in particular those with psychiatric conditions, experience unique disability-related barriers impacting their social and academic experiences and degree completion. The results of the analyses revealed that students with psychiatric impairments reported significantly higher stigma scores compared to peers with other types of impairments on the Academic Success, Personal Relationships, and Sense of Self and Identity factors of the PSSDS, as well as on the overall stigma scores. The analyses also indicated that PSSDS total stigma scores and disability type variables accounted for a significant amount of unique variance in intention to graduate scores. Also, the findings of the study are discussed in relation to recommendations for future research and practice.


College students with disabilities, College students Mental health, Stigma (Social psychology), College dropouts, Educational Leadership, Educational Psychology, College students with impairments, Section 504, stigma, intention to graduate

Rights Statement

Copyright 2017, author