Medical Student Beliefs and Attitudes Toward Mental Illness Across Five Nations [2016]

Negative attitudes toward people with mental illness are a widespread concern and may vary across countries. This study used a 36-item questionnaire to compare attitudes toward people with mental illness and beliefs about the causes of mental illness among medical students from the United States, Brazil, Ghana, Nigeria, and China (N = 1131). Exploratory factor analysis identified the underlying factor structure of the questionnaire, and analysis of covariance was then used to compare factors representing four nonstigmatized attitudes across students from the five countries. US Medical students scored highest on all four factors, followed by those from Brazil. Nigerian and Ghanaian students scored lowest on nonsupernatural etiology of mental illness, and Chinese students showed the lowest score on personal social acceptance and public policy acceptance of people with mental illness. Differences in medical student attitudes between these five countries suggest underlying sociocultural differences in attitudes with the more stigmatized attitudes in developing countries.

Stefanovics, Elina A. PhD; Rosenheck, Robert A. MD; He, Hongo MD, PhD; Ofori-Atta, Angela PhD; Cavalcanti, Maria PhD; Chiles, Catherine MD

The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, December 2016 – Volume 204 – Issue 12

doi: 10.1097/NMD.0000000000000610