Attitudes of U.S. Psychiatry Residents and Fellows towards Mental Illness and its Causes: a Comparison Study with Medical Students
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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.
KeywordsPsychiatry resident Fellow Attitudes Mental illness Stigma
Compliance with Ethical Standards
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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