Stigma and discrimination towards people suffering from mental illness is still unfortunately common in our community and this can negatively affects the attitudes of medical students. Medical curricula in different medical schools were found to have less effect than expected on these attitudes.
To compare the stigma and attitudes between fourth and sixth year medical students (before and after their psychiatry placement) at the College of Medicine, University of Baghdad, towards mentally ill people.
SUBJECTS & METHODS:
A case control study with random samples were taken from the fourth and sixth year students. The community attitudes towards mental illness questionnaire was used to rate attitudes and stigma amongst both groups of students. Independent sample's t test was used to compare between both groups. P value ≤ 0.05 was considered significant.
A total of 106 students from fourth year and 107 students from the sixth year had participated in this study, male to female ratio was 0.3:1 and 0.9:1 respectively. Mean age was 21.5±0.8 for the fourth year and 23.7±0.7 for the sixth year. Majority of students were from Baghdad city (92.45% of 4th year and 89.72% of 6th year) .Crowding index was almost similar between both groups. Stigma was not significantly different between fourth and sixth year students (p =0.1). Authoritarianism was significantly higher among sixth year students (p=0.02), while other subscales (benevolence, social restrictiveness, and community mental health ideology) were not significantly different (P value was 0.6, 0.08, and 0.2 respectively). Crowding index had no effect on stigma and other community attitudes towards mentally ill (CAMI) subscales.
Stigma and attitudes towards mentally ill people were the same in fourth and sixth years' students. It seems that psychiatry curriculum did not help in changing attitudes of students towards mentally ill people.