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 Table of Contents  
ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2019  |  Volume : 20  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 9-13

Attitude toward mental illness among medical students and nonpsychiatric doctors


1 Post Graduate, Department of Psychiatry, Mamata Medical College, Khammam, Telangana, India
2 Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Mamata Medical College, Khammam, Telangana, India
3 Professor and HOD, Department of Psychiatry, Mamata Medical College, Khammam, Telangana, India
4 Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Mamata Medical College, Khammam, Telangana, India

Date of Web Publication20-Jun-2019

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Raghuram Macharapu
Department of Psychiatry, Mamata Medical College, Khammam, Telangana
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/AMH.AMH_36_18

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  Abstract 


Objective: To determine the attitude toward mental illness among medical students and nonpsychiatric doctors of Mamata Medical College.
Materials and Methods: The study was cross-sectional, conducted in Mamata Medical College, Khammam, from September 2016 to March 2017. Our study sample contains 150 medical students doing internship and 100 nonpsychiatric doctors working in Mamata Medical College, Khammam, who are willing to participate in the study.
Results: In the present study, we observed negative attitude toward mental illness among both medical students and nonpsychiatric doctors. When compared attitude toward mental illness among medical students and nonpsychiatric doctors, we found that there was no statistically significant difference. Compared to nonpsychiatric doctors, the medical students had stigma that people with severe mental illness are dangerous and it is more discomfortable talking to a person with a mental illness. Compared to medical students, the nonpsychiatric doctors had stigma that being a psychiatrist is not like being a real doctor and it is not important that any doctor supporting a person with mental illness also assesses their physical health. Nonpsychiatric doctors also had stigma that they do not want to work with a colleague if they had a mental illness.
Conclusion: This study demonstrates the need for educational programs aimed at medical and nonpsychiatric doctors for providing basic information and thus demystifying mental illness.

Keywords: Attitude toward mental illness, nonpsychiatric doctors, medical students


How to cite this article:
Kumar M V, Macharapu R, Reddy PK, Babu S. Attitude toward mental illness among medical students and nonpsychiatric doctors. Arch Ment Health 2019;20:9-13

How to cite this URL:
Kumar M V, Macharapu R, Reddy PK, Babu S. Attitude toward mental illness among medical students and nonpsychiatric doctors. Arch Ment Health [serial online] 2019 [cited 2019 Jul 17];20:9-13. Available from: http://www.amhonline.org/text.asp?2019/20/1/9/260771




  Introduction Top


Around the world, people with mental illness frequently encounter stigma, prejudice, and discrimination not only by the public but also by medical students and doctors.[1],[2] According to the World Health Organization, it was estimated that there are 450 million people in the world currently suffering from some kind of mental illness and constitutes 14% of the global burden of disease.[3] The rate of mental disorders in India is high, which is also observed in other parts of the world.[4]

Psychiatry is often perceived “different” by other medical professionals as much as by a common human. This perception of “difference” may give rise to stigma toward both mental illness and psychiatrists. Psychiatrists are thus both recipients of stigma and agents who can de-stigmatize psychiatry.[5] Psychiatry as a branch of medicine has seen numerous advances in recent years. Better awareness regarding mental illness is essential not only among the general population but also among healthcare professionals. Better understanding and knowledge regarding mental illnesses and available effective treatment modalities may help in shaping up a favorable attitude toward mental health and the mentally ill among the public, medical students, and most importantly the medical profession at large.[6],[7]

Basic understanding of psychiatry, outlook toward psychiatric disorders, as well as stigma surrounding all its aspects has to be studied. Psychiatric disorders exist all over the world, affecting about 10% of the adult population, at any given point in time.[8] Despite this global presence, negative attitude toward psychiatric disorders has been consistently reported to be prevalent in all sections of society.[9]

Negative attitudes toward psychiatric disorders lead to compromised patient care toward mentally ill persons. Negative attitudes toward psychiatric disorders have an impact on the lives of not only the patients but also their caregivers. This stigma can obstruct the provision of adequate and appropriate services to persons with mental illness.[10],[11]

To provide effective mental health care for general population, knowledge and awareness regarding psychiatric disorders have to be increased among the general population. In addition to this, it is crucial that the medical fraternity itself is not plagued by prejudicial attitudes.[12],[13] A negative attitude toward psychiatry harbored by medical professionals may prove to be a hindrance in providing quality care to the mentally ill persons in need.

A substantial number of patients attending various healthcare settings suffer from psychiatric disturbances with figures ranging from 15% to 50%.[12] Psychiatric exposure of medical and paramedical staff during training is grossly inadequate which eventually leads to insufficient knowledge and misconceptions about psychiatric illnesses and their treatment.[13],[14],[15]

Mental well-being has been considered special for many years, but psychiatrist encounters stigma in their daily practice that affects the recovery process and the quality of life of their patients.[6] Profound negative attitudes toward psychiatric illness were documented in the early studies.[16] The stigma associated with mental illness is well-recognized in the West. However, there are insufficient data about stigma in developing countries.[17] Stigmatizing attitude among doctors themselves can result in compromised patient care. The attitude of medical students toward psychiatry and psychiatric disorders may be modeled by many attributes that may come into play before and while enrolment in a medical school, such as the role of education providers.[18],[19],[20],[21]

Many studies have found out strongly negative public attitudes toward the mentally ill. Public opinion might be influenced by doctors. In the present study, medical students and doctors were studied regarding their attitudes toward the mentally ill as some studies found that public opinion was influenced by doctors and medical students.[22]

In Indian setting, there are very few studies related to attitude toward mental illness. Further research is required to assess the attitude toward mental illness to reduce stigma and increase awareness about mental illness among medical students and doctors. The present study was undertaken to find out the attitude of medical students and nonpsychiatric doctors toward mental illness.


  Materials and Methods Top


Place of the study – The study was conducted in Mamata Medical College, Khammam, Telangana. Study period – The study was undertaken from July 2016 to February 2017 in the department of psychiatry following the college's ethical committee approval. Study sample – The study sample consists of 150 medical students doing internship and 100 nonpsychiatric doctors working in Mamata Medical College, Khammam, who are willing to participate in the study. Study design – Cross-sectional. Inclusion criteria – All the students who doing internship and all nonpsychiatric healthcare professionals in Mamata Medical College who are willing to participate in the study. Exclusion criteria – Students and nonpsychiatric health professionals who not willing to participate and who had psychiatric illness. Materials – Mental illness clinicians' attitudes (MICA) 2 scale[23] and MICA 4 scale[24] consist of 16 questions each. A person's MICA score is the sum of the scores for the individual items. For items 3, 9, 10, 11, 12, and 16, items are scored as follows: Strongly agree = 1, agree = 2, Somewhat agree = 3, somewhat disagree = 4, disagree = 5, strongly disagree = 6. All other items (1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 13, 14, 15) are reverse scored as follows: Strongly agree = 6, agree = 5, somewhat agree = 4, somewhat disagree = 3, disagree = 2, strongly disagree = 1. The scores for each item are summed to produce a single overall score. A high overall score indicates a more negative (stigmatizing) attitude.

Statistical analysis

Data obtained were analyzed using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences, Version 20 (IBM Corp., IBM SPSS Statistics for Windows, Armonk, NY, USA). The Student's t-test was used.


  Results Top


In the present study, we observed negative attitude toward mental illness among medical students and nonpsychiatric doctors. When compared attitude toward mental illness among medical students and nonpsychiatric doctors, we found that there was no statistically significant difference. However, compared to nonpsychiatric doctors, the medical students had stigma that people with severe mental illness are dangerous and it is more discomfortable talking to a person with a mental illness.

Compared to medical students, the nonpsychiatric doctors had stigma that being a psychiatrist is not like being a real doctor and it is not important that any doctor supporting a person with mental illness also assesses their physical health. Nonpsychiatric doctors also had stigma that they do not want to work with a colleague if they had a mental illness.

Statistical analysis had depicted that the mean score of medical students was 46.07 ± 8.08 and that of nonpsychiatric professionals was 47.28 ± 9.59, and when the mean scores of both the groups were compared, it was found that there was no statistically significant difference between them as depicted in [Table 1]. However, the mean score is high in both groups which suggests that negative attitude toward mental illness is high in both groups.
Table 1: Comparison of mean and standard deviation of medical students towards mental illness with mean and standard deviation of nonpsychiatric doctors

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Medical students had felt that psychiatrists know more about the lives of people treated for mental illness than do family members or friends. Medical students had felt that the public need to be protected from people with severe mental illness as shown in [Table 2].
Table 2: Mean and standard deviation of medical students toward mental illness

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Nonpsychiatric doctors had felt that psychiatrists know more about the lives of people treated for mental illness than do family members or friends. Nonpsychiatric doctors had felt that public need to be protected from people with a severe mental illness which depicted in [Table 3].
Table 3: Mean and standard deviation of nonpsychiatric doctors towards mental illness

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Compared to nonpsychiatric doctors, medical students had stigma that people with severe mental illness are dangerous as depicted in question number 5. Compared to medical students, nonpsychiatric doctors had stigma that being a psychiatrist is not like being a real doctor as depicted in question number 8. Compared to nonpsychiatric health professionals, medical students had stigma that it is more discomfortable talking to a person with a mental illness as depicted in question number 10. Compared to medical students, nonpsychiatric health professionals had stigma that it is not important that any doctor supporting a person with mental illness also assesses their physical health as depicted in question number 11. Compared to medical students, nonpsychiatric health professionals had stigma that they do not want to work with a colleague if they had a mental illness as depicted in question number 16 as shown in [Table 4].
Table 4: Comparison of individual parameters of mental illness clinicians' attitudes 2 (students) with individual parameters of mental illness clinicians' attitudes 4 (doctors)

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  Discussion Top


In the present study, we observed negative attitude toward mental illness among medical students and nonpsychiatric doctors. Similar studies were observed by a number of authors in different countries.[25],[26],[27],[28]

When the mean scores of both medical students and nonpsychiatric health professionals groups were compared, it was found that there was no statistically significant difference between them. However, both medical students and nonpsychiatric doctors had stigma that psychiatrists know more about the lives of people treated for mental illness than do family members or friends and the public need to be protected from people with a severe mental illness.

Compared to nonpsychiatric doctors, medical students had more stigma that people with severe mental illness are dangerous and it is more discomfortable talking to a person with mental illness.

Compared to medical students, nonpsychiatric doctors had more stigma that being a psychiatrist is not like being a real doctor and they do not want to work with a colleague if they had mental illness, and it is not important that any doctor supporting a person with a mental illness also assesses their physical health.

It is integral to recognize the value of changing attitudes and perceptions toward mental illness, to promote equality for people with psychiatric illness. There is a need to educate all students and doctors about psychiatric disorders, for which we may use interventions such as discussions, talks, and awareness sessions in class and tutorials. A recent study examined the effects of three strategies for changing negative attitudes toward mental illnesses: (i) education (which replaces myths about mental illness with accurate conceptions); (ii) contact (which challenges public attitudes about mental illness through direct interactions with persons who have these disorders); and (iii) protest (which seeks to suppress stigmatizing attitudes about mental illness).[29]

A recent study in India suggested that students who had undergone psychiatry postings, showing positive attitudes toward people with mental illness.[30] However, a significant decrease in negative and stigmatizing views toward mental illness was concluded by other studies after exposure to psychiatry practice.[31]


  Conclusion Top


In the present study, we observed negative attitude toward mental illness among medical students and nonpsychiatric doctors, which demonstrates the need for educational programs aimed at medical and nonpsychiatric doctors for providing basic information and thus demystifying mental illness.

Limitations

The study sample was collected from only one tertiary care hospital, which was the major limitation of the study, and further research can be conducted, so results cannot be generalized to the population.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
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  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3], [Table 4]



 

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