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Original Papers

The attitude of medical students towards the mental mentally ill: the impact of a clinical attachment in Psychiatry

Authors:

Angelo de Alwis ,

University Psychiatry Unit, NHSL, Colombo, LK
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Rasitha Perera,

University Psychiatry Unit, NHSL, Colombo, LK
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HL Vasantha,

University Psychiatry Unit, NHSL, Colombo, LK
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Thushani Henegama,

University Psychiatry Unit, NHSL, Colombo, LK
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Sunera Fernando

Department of Psychological Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo, LK
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Abstract

Background Working and associating with people with mental illness influence the attitudes towards mental illness. Medical students of the Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka have a mandatory six week clinical attachment in psychiatry in the final year, which provides an opportunity to work with people with mental illness.

Aims To determine the impact of the clinical attachment in psychiatry on attitudes among medical students towards people with mental illness.

Method The 20-point Attitude to Mental Illness Questionnaire (AMIQ) was used to assess stigmatizing attitudes, before and after the six week clinical attachment in psychiatry, in a cohort of medical students completing the appointment during a one year period January-December 2011. The AMIQ consists of five hypothetical case vignettes and five questions based on each case vignette.

Results Questionnaires were received from 194 medical students, (88% response rate) before the commencement of the clinical attachment and from 137 medical students, (62% response rate) after completing the clinical attachment. The post attachment mean AMIQ stigma score had improved for schizophrenia, depression, heroin use and alcohol use. The difference in AMIQ stigma scores were significant for heroin use (p=0.014, median difference=0.4), schizophrenia (p=0.049, median difference = 0.3), and depression (p=0.014, median difference = 0.4) In both the pre-clinical attachment as well as the post-clinical attachment groups, stigmatizing attitudes were significantly higher for depression (p<0.0001), and schizophrenia (p<0.001) compared to the attitude towards diabetes.

Conclusion The final year clinical attachment in psychiatry significantly reduced stigmatizing attitudes among medical students towards mental illness.

Sri Lanka Journal of Psychiatry Vol 3(2) December 2012 Page 12-15

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.4038/sljpsyc.v3i2.5132

How to Cite: de Alwis, A. et al., (2013). The attitude of medical students towards the mental mentally ill: the impact of a clinical attachment in Psychiatry. Sri Lanka Journal of Psychiatry. 3(2), pp.12–15. DOI: http://doi.org/10.4038/sljpsyc.v3i2.5132
Published on 13 Jan 2013.
Peer Reviewed

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