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Year : 2018  |  Volume : 31  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 3-9

Attitudes toward mental illness among Caribbean medical students

Department of Preclinical Sciences, The University of the West Indies, Trinidad and Tobago

Correspondence Address:
Farid F Youssef
Department of Preclinical Sciences, The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine
Trinidad and Tobago
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/1357-6283.239029

Background: There are limited empirical data on all matters pertaining to mental illness in the Caribbean but what little there is suggests significant levels of stigmatization exist. In this context, health professionals reveal at least equal to or only slightly improved attitudes to mental illness as compared to the general population. In addition, while there is evidence of improved attitudes among the population at large over the past decade this trend has not been observed among health professionals. This study, therefore, sought to assess medical students' knowledge about and attitudes toward mental illness as they traversed medical school. Methods: Preclinical medical students were surveyed and then retested in their final year of training. Students completed a knowledge scale, and the medical conditions regard scale comparing attitudes to four mental illness and three physical illness.Results: Knowledge about and attitudes toward mental illness showed significant improvement over the 5-year period. However, both preclinical and clinical students revealed significant levels of stigmatization toward mental illness despite improvements in knowledge. Students recognized the need to prioritize treatment for persons with mental illness but did not want to be personally involved in the treatment process. Discussion: Results highlight that significant negative attitudes still exist among medical students toward mental illness and these persist up until graduation. There is a need for further research into innovations and interventions to address this matter.

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