Psychiatric Quarterly

, Volume 89, Issue 3, pp 581–588 | Cite as

Attitudes of U.S. Psychiatry Residents and Fellows towards Mental Illness and its Causes: a Comparison Study with Medical Students

  • Catherine Chiles
  • Elina Stefanovics
  • Robert Rosenheck
Original Paper


Stigma towards people with mental illness remains a burden for patients and healthcare providers. This study at a large US university examined the attitudes of psychiatry residents and fellows towards mental illness and its causes, and whether their attitudes differed from the medical student attitudes previously studied utilizing the same survey method. An electronic questionnaire examining attitudes toward people with mental illness, causes of mental Illness, and treatment efficacy was used to survey the attitudes of psychiatry residents and fellows. Exploratory factor analysis derived from the authors’ medical student survey was used to examine attitudinal factors. The study response rate was 54.2% (n = 94). Factor analysis employed three factors previously identified reflecting social acceptance of mental illness, belief in supernatural causes, and belief in biopsychosocial causes. Residents and fellows reporting more personal experiences with mental illness, both as a group and when compared with medical students, were significantly more willing to socialize with the mentally ill. Respondents who had more professional (work) experience other than medical school or post-graduate training were less likely to believe in supernatural causes of mental illness. Female residents and fellows were more willing to socialize with the mentally ill, and were less likely to believe in supernatural causes for mental illness than their male counterparts. In our study, increased social acceptance of the mentally ill relates to having personal experiences, advanced training in psychiatry, and female gender. Both professional experiences outside of training and female gender reduced the belief in supernatural causes.


Psychiatry resident Fellow Attitudes Mental illness Stigma 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Ethical Statement

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Catherine Chiles
    • 1
  • Elina Stefanovics
    • 1
  • Robert Rosenheck
    • 1
  1. 1.VA New England Mental Illness, Research, Education and Clinical CenterVA Connecticut Healthcare System (116A-4)West HavenUSA

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