Doctors' attitude towards people with mental illness in Western Nigeria

Abiodun O Adewuya, Ayotunde A Oguntade
Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology 2007, 42 (11): 931-6

INTRODUCTION: It had been suggested that those more knowledgeable about mental illness are less likely to endorse negative or stigmatizing attitudes. This study aimed to evaluate the attitude of doctors in Nigeria towards the mentally ill.

METHODS: Medical doctors (n = 312) from eight selected health institutions in Nigeria completed various questionnaires on knowledge and attitude towards people with mental illness.

RESULTS: Beliefs in supernatural causes were prevalent. The mentally ill were perceived as dangerous and their prognosis perceived as poor. High social distance was found amongst 64.1% and the associated factors include not having a family member/friend with mental illness (OR 7.12, 95% CI 3.71-13.65), age less than 45 years (OR 2.33, 95% CI 1.23-4.40), less than 10 years of clinical experience (OR 6.75, 95% CI 3.86-11.82) and female sex (OR 4.98, 95% CI 2.70-9.18).

CONCLUSION: Culturally enshrined beliefs about mental illness were prevalent among Nigerian doctors. A review of medical curriculum is needed and the present anti-stigma campaigns should start from the doctors.

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