Author(s): Ogunsemi OO, Odusan O, Olatawura MO, Ogunsemi OO, Odusan O, Olatawura MO
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Abstract BACKGROUND: The aim of this study is to evaluate the effect of a psychiatric label attached to an apparently normal person on the attitude of final year medical students at a Nigerian university. METHODS: A questionnaire with sections on demographic information, a single-paragraph case description illustrating a normal person, a social distance scale and questions on expected burden was used to elicit responses from 144 final year medical students who have had previous exposure to psychiatric posting. The students consisted of two randomly assigned groups; group A received a case description with a psychiatric label attached while group B received the same case description but without a psychiatric label. RESULTS: A total of 68 (47.2\%) of the students responded to the questionnaire with the attached psychiatric label, while 76 (52.8\%) responded to the questionnaire without the attached label. There was no statistical difference in age (p = 0.187) and sex (p = 0.933) between the two groups of students. The students who responded to the questionnaire with the attached psychiatric label would not rent out their houses (p = 0.003), were unwilling to have as their next-door neighbour (p = 0.004), or allow their sister to get married (p = 0.000) to the man depicted in the case description compared with those that responded to the questionnaire without label. This group also felt that the man would exhaust them both physically (p = 0.005) and emotionally (p = 0.021) in any relationship with him. CONCLUSION: These results strengthen the view that stigma attached to mental illness is not limited to the general public; medical students are also part of the stigmatizing world. There is, therefore, a need to incorporate issues concerning stigma and its reduction as a core component of the mental health curriculum of medical schools.
This article was published in Ann Gen Psychiatry
and referenced in Journal of Psychiatry