Empathy, Experience and Cultural Beliefs Determine the Attitudes Towards Depression Among Pakistani Medical Students

  • Ahmed WaqasEmail author
  • Sadiq Naveed
  • Ayesha Makhmoor
  • Aamenah Malik
  • Hamid Hassan
  • Kapil Kiran Aedma
Original Paper


The educated echelons of the Pakistani society as well as the medical fraternity have consistently reported poor knowledge of mental illnesses in past surveys. This poor knowledge further translates into poorer attitudes toward psychiatric patients in Pakistani hospitals. However, a paucity of data on predictors of attitude toward depression among Pakistani medical students, warrants further in depth investigations. This cross-sectional study was conducted in two medical colleges in the province of Punjab, Pakistan from January to July 2017. The data were collected conveniently, using a self-administered questionnaire comprising of five parts: (a) demographics, (b) a dichotomous (yes/no) scale exploring biological, psychosocial and religio-magical beliefs about causation of depression, (c) a dichotomous scale (yes/no) assessing knowledge regarding symptomatology of depression, (d) the revised depression attitude questionnaire, (e) Toronto empathy questionnaire. There were a total of 674 respondents. Students with an A-levels/high school diploma, urban background, and aspiration for a career in psychiatry, high empathy levels and endorsement of typical and atypical symptoms of psychiatry had more positive attitudes towards depression. Negative attitudes toward depression were associated with belief in religio-magical causes and false symptoms of depression. Attitude toward depression among Pakistani medical students are shaped by several modifiable and non-modifiable factors. Modifiable factors including exposure toward mentally ill patients and knowledge of depression can be mitigated by in-depth clerkship training in psychiatry.


Depression Attitudes Empathy Psychiatry Education 



No funding was received for this study.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

Ethical review for this study was granted by the ethical review committee at the CMH Lahore Medical College and Institute of Dentistry, Lahore Cantt, Pakistan. Written informed consent was provided by all participants who were ensured anonymity, reporting of group level findings and use of data for scholarly work. This study follows guidelines laid down by the Declaration of Helsinki.

Supplementary material

10597_2019_459_MOESM1_ESM.docx (28 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 28 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CMH Lahore Medical College & Institute of DentistryLahore Cantt.Pakistan
  2. 2.Kansas University Medical CenterKansas CityUSA
  3. 3.Nishtar Medical UniversityMultanPakistan
  4. 4.Department of PsychiatryUnity Point Health MethodistPeoriaUSA

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