Attitude towards psychiatry among final year medical students in Sri Lanka
Stigma towards psychiatry, a debilitating phenomenon worldwide, is likely to have engendered the longstanding lack of recruitment into psychiatry in Sri Lanka. However, recent expansion of the undergraduate training in psychiatry in Sri Lanka may have instigated favorable changes in students’ attitudes. We assessed the attitudes of final-year medical students in nine medical schools in Sri Lanka regarding psychiatry by administering the Attitude towards psychiatry-30 (ATP-30) scale. This 30-item questionnaire covers eight domains of psychiatry and is rated on a Likert scale, producing a total score out of 150. Each item on the ATP-30 is rated on a 5-point Likert scale ranging from “Strongly agree” to “Strongly disagree”. Fifteen of the 30 items are reverse coded. Background information about the participant including the name of the medical school, and information related to potential correlates identified in literature including gender, presence of a close person with mental illness and the total duration of exposure to clerkships in psychiatry are included. A multiple linear regression was performed to investigate associated factors. A total of 743 final-year students participated. Of them, 54 % were male. The mean attitude score was 107.7 (SD=12.3) and 92.2% showed an overall “positive” attitude. 22.2% of students considered psychiatry as a potential future career. Students with more than one month of clinical exposure to psychiatry showed a better attitude compared to those with shorter exposure. Female gender and the presence of a close person with mental illness were also associated with better attitudes and career interest.