Perception, Knowledge, and Attitude toward Mental Disorders and Psychiatry among Medical Undergraduates in Karnataka: A Cross-Sectional Study

By Aruna, G.; Mittal, Shobhana et al. | Indian Journal of Psychiatry, January-March 2016 | Go to article overview

Perception, Knowledge, and Attitude toward Mental Disorders and Psychiatry among Medical Undergraduates in Karnataka: A Cross-Sectional Study


Aruna, G., Mittal, Shobhana, Yadiyal, Muralidhara, Acharya, Chandana, Acharya, Srilekha, Uppulari, Chinmay, Indian Journal of Psychiatry


Byline: G. Aruna, Shobhana. Mittal, Muralidhara. Yadiyal, Chandana. Acharya, Srilekha. Acharya, Chinmay. Uppulari

Context: Globally, psychiatry as a subject, psychiatrists as professionals, and patients with psychiatric disorders are subjected to cultural stereotypes and negative attitude by the general population. What is of alarming concern is that these prejudices exist within the medical community as well. Aims: This study aims at evaluating the perception, knowledge, and attitude toward psychiatric disorders, therapeutic modalities used in psychiatry, psychiatry as a subject and psychiatrists as professionals among undergraduate medical students in Karnataka. Settings and Design: This is a descriptive, cross-sectional type of study conducted in three medical colleges located in Karnataka. Materials and Methods: A sample of 500 students from all three professional phases of MBBS was selected using purposive sampling. A semistructured prevalidated questionnaire was used to assess the perception, knowledge, and attitude of undergraduate medical students toward psychiatric disorders and psychiatry. Statistical Analysis: Data were analyzed using Statistical Package for Social Sciences, version 16.0. Results: The undergraduate medical student population had significant shortcomings in knowledge and attitude pertaining to psychiatric disorders, more glaring in the initial years of education. A comparatively positive opinion was obtained regarding psychiatry as a subject and psychiatrists as professionals, which may reflect the changing trends and concepts, both in society and medical community. Conclusion: This study highlights the need for better educational measures at undergraduate level in order to shape a positive attitude of the health care providers towards psychiatry, which is essential for ensuring better care for patients as well as reduction of stigma surrounding psychiatric disorders.

INTRODUCTION

The debate about basic understanding of psychiatry, outlook toward psychiatric disorders as well as stigma surrounding all its aspects has been long on-going and much warranted. Psychiatric disorders exist worldwide, affecting about 10% of the adult population, at any given point in time. [sup][1] Despite this global presence, negative attitude toward psychiatric disorders has been consistently reported to be prevalent in all sections of society. [sup][2] Mental disorders are either ignored or considered to be a taboo by a majority of people, hailing from all walks of life.

Globally, psychiatry as a subject, psychiatrists as professionals, and patients with psychiatric disorders are subjected to cultural stereotypes and negative attitude by the general population. What is of alarming concern is that these prejudices exist within the medical community as well. [sup][3],[4],[5],[6],[7]

This reign of ignorance and stigma prevails either because psychiatric disorders are not understood by most people or are surrounded by preconceived biases. Negative attitudes toward psychiatric disorders lead to deep-seated prejudices toward mentally ill persons, which may manifest in the form of fear or intolerance. This culminates in further fortifying the stigma surrounding psychiatry, and hence a vicious cycle ensues. This has an impact on the lives of not only the psychiatric patients, but also their families and treating psychiatrists. This stigma can hinder the provision of adequate and appropriate services to persons with psychiatric disorders. [sup][8],[9]

To ensure effective delivery of mental health care, knowledge, and awareness regarding psychiatric disorders has to be increased among the general population. In addition to this, it is crucial that the medical fraternity itself is not plagued by prejudicial attitudes. [sup][2],[8] A negative attitude toward psychiatry harbored by medical professionals may prove to be an obstacle in providing quality care to the mentally ill persons in need. …

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