Attitudes of Medical Students in Malta Toward Psychiatry and Mental Illness

Abstract

Objective

The study aimed to explore the attitudes of medical students in Malta toward psychiatry and mental illness. It looked at the effect of sex, clinical exposure, and experience with mental illness on students’ attitudes.

Methods

A questionnaire containing the ATP 30 and MICA-2 scales was distributed to all medical students in Malta in a cross-sectional study. Factor analysis was followed by reliability testing using Cronbach Alpha. Factor scores were achieved using the regression method. The independent sample t test and the Mann–Whitney U test were used to check for relationships between factor scores and variable of interest. Following this, the means and medians of factor scores for each group were calculated and compared.

Results

Three hundred ninety-six students (51%) answered the questionnaire. Males had more positive attitudes toward psychiatry as a career choice (p = 0.01) and more positive attitudes toward the importance of psychiatry (p = 0.00). Those with clinical exposure to psychiatry had more negative attitudes toward the efficacy of psychiatry and psychiatrists (p = 0.00). Having experience with mental illness in some form was associated with decreased appeal in psychiatry as a career (p = 0.01 for personal experience, p = 0.01 for relatives, p = 0.00 for friends).

Conclusions

The factor structures obtained using ATP 30 and MICA-2 scales in this study are different from those found in the original literature. Having undergone psychiatry rotations had no significant impact on the attitudes toward psychiatry as a career choice but led to more negative attitudes toward the efficacy of psychiatry and psychiatrists.

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Correspondence to Nicole Borg.

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Borg, N., Testa, L., Sammut, F. et al. Attitudes of Medical Students in Malta Toward Psychiatry and Mental Illness. Acad Psychiatry 44, 709–713 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40596-020-01304-y

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Keywords

  • Medical students
  • Malta
  • Career
  • Mental illness
  • Psychiatry