Nepalese Pharmacy Students' Perceptions regarding Mental Disorders and Pharmacy Education

By Panthee, Suresh; Panthee, Bimala et al. | American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, July 2010 | Go to article overview

Nepalese Pharmacy Students' Perceptions regarding Mental Disorders and Pharmacy Education


Panthee, Suresh, Panthee, Bimala, Shakya, Sabin Raj, Panthee, Nirmal, Bhandari, Dhaka Ram, Bell, J. Simon, American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education


INTRODUCTION

Psychological morbidity and burn-out has been reported among pharmacy, (1,2) medical, (3-6) and dental students. (7) Between 23% and 39% of medical students exhibit depressive symptoms. (8,9) Healthcare professionals and students enrolled in health schools frequently use and abuse illicit and prescription drugs. (7,10,11) Eighty-eight percent of pharmacists in the United States who admit abusing potentially addictive prescription drugs began this practice during their time in college. (12)

As part of their training, pharmacy students are usually taught to recognize the signs and symptoms of physical health problems but not those of mental health problems. Seventy-five percent of colleges and schools of pharmacy in the United States employ a psychiatric pharmacist. (13) In comparison, just 37% of European universities employ or contract a mental health pharmacist, and only 31% include course content about sufferers' experiences with depression, schizophrenia, and substance abuse. (14) Ignorance about mental health problems may lead pharmacy students to develop stigmatizing attitudes (15-17) and this may discourage them from seeking help for themselves or providing support for their peers (18) and later, professional colleagues with mental health problems. Lack of adequate training has been described as the main barrier to the provision of pharmaceutical services to people with depression. (19) The need to provide appropriate training may be particularly important as pharmacists develop and provide new patient care services for people with mental disorders. (20,21)

The attitudes of pharmacists and pharmacy students towards people with mental disorders have been investigated, (15-17,22-24) but no studies have assessed how pharmacy students perceive how their own mental disorders interfere with academic performance, or whether mental disorders should be grounds for reject admission to or dismissal from pharmacy schools. This knowledge is important to better understand the help-seeking behavior and mental health needs of pharmacy students. Understanding how pharmacy students perceive mental disorders is also important to inform the possible need for curriculum reform. The objective of this study was to investigate how Nepalese pharmacy students' perceive that mental disorders impact students' performance in pharmacy education. The specific objectives were to determine how students perceive the impact of mental disorders on students' academic performance, and whether having a mental disorder should be grounds for rejecting an applicant to pharmacy school or dismissing a student from pharmacy school.

METHODS

A cross-sectional census survey of all first- and third-year undergraduate pharmacy students in Nepal was conducted from April 2008 through February 2009. All 4 universities that provide pharmacy education in Nepal participated in the study: Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu University, Pokhara University, and Purbanchal University. Pharmacy education in Nepal consists of a 4-year bachelor of pharmacy (BPharm) degree followed by a 2-year master of pharmacy (MPharm) degree. At the master's degree level, students can choose to specialize in industrial pharmacy or pharmaceutical care. Though no university curriculum has special focus on mental disorders, students are given a brief overview of depression, mania, psychosis, drug abuse, and dependence during their undergraduate studies. The majority of pharmacy graduates in Nepal work in the pharmaceutical industry (48%), academia (11%), and community and hospital pharmacies (8%). (25)

Data were collected using a modified version of the Mental Illness Performance Scale (MIPS), (26) which comprises a list of 17 mental disorders. Respondents were asked to indicate their level of agreement about whether each disorder would (1) interfere with academic performance, (2) be grounds for dismissal from pharmacy school, and (3) be grounds for rejecting a pharmacy school applicant. …

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