ABSTRACT: Effect of Medical Education on Students’ Attitudes Toward Psychiatry and Individuals With Mental Disorders
OBJECTIVE This study aimed to explore the effect of medical education on students’ attitudes toward psychiatry and psychiatric patients, and examined the usefulness of a new evaluation tool: the Psychiatric Experience, Attitudes, and Knowledge: 6 Items (PEAK-6). METHOD Authors studied the attitudes of 116 medical students toward psychiatry and individuals with mental disorders, using two questionnaires before and after a 12-week module of “psychosocial medicine.” Results of the questionnaire Attitudes Toward Psychiatry: 30 Items (ATP-30) were compared with the results of PEAK-6. RESULTS With the ATP-30, no change in attitudes toward psychiatry was observed at the end of the module. With the PEAK-6, the item “attitude toward psychiatry” significantly improved. Knowledge of and experience with psychiatry as well as knowledge of and experience with individuals with mental disorders improved significantly; however, attitudes toward individuals with mental disorders did not improve. CONCLUSION PEAK-6 seems to be a promising tool with regard to nuanced information about psychiatric learning experiences. Participation in a psychiatric module may be associated with a positive effect on students’ knowledge about, experience with, and attitudes toward psychiatry, but not attitudes toward psychiatric patients.