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Attitudes of Pre-Clinical and Clinical Medical Students to Psychiatry
Medical training provides an environment in which proper and professional attitudes towards psychiatric patients can be acquired. The purpose of this study was to assess the attitudes of medical students to psychiatry by comparing those of clinical students that have had exposure to psychiatric postings with the pre-clinical students who have not had rotations in psychiatry. A questionnaire was administered to a sample of randomly selected preclinical and clinical medical students studying at Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ogun state. The items on the questionnaire were designed explicitly to collect information on attitude to psychiatry. A total of 152 students took part in the study. Sixty six (43.4%) of them were males. Seventy eight (51.3%) of the respondents were preclinical students. About 60% of the students agreed that psychiatry is a rapidly advancing field of medicine. More than two-thirds of the respondents felt psychiatry has a high status and aura of wisdom within medicine. A large percentage of the students disagreed with the statement that entering psychiatry is a waste of medical education and that it is not a challenging career. The clinical students showed more positive attitudes toward psychiatry compared to the preclinical students. They agreed more that psychiatry is a rapidly advancing field in medicine compared with the preclinical students (χ2 = 4.537, p = 0.033). The clinical students were favourably disposed to choosing psychiatry as a field of specialty compared with the preclinical students (χ2 = 12.659, p = 0.000). Appropriate psychiatric education of medical students may do much to reduce the stigma directed towards psychiatry.
Keywords: Attitude to psychiatry, Medical students, Medical education, Stigma
Nigerian Hospital Practice Vol. 2 (4) 2008: pp. 88-92