Attitudes of ward attendants towards mental illness: comparisons and predictors

Pandey Vibha, Sahoo Saddichha, Ranjeet Kumar
International Journal of Social Psychiatry 2008, 54 (5): 469-78

BACKGROUND: In India few studies exist that explore attitudes of mental health professionals, especially psychiatric ward attendants, towards psychiatric illnesses. This study aimed to explore attitudes of psychiatric ward attendants since they work closely with psychiatric patients in the hospital ward, and which may differ given their cultural and social background.

METHODS: Five hundred psychiatric ward attendants were targeted and a 100 sample size chosen based on systematic random sampling. A control group from guardians attending the outpatient department of Central Institute of Psychiatry was selected using the same methods. Attitudes of both groups were assessed using Community Attitudes towards Mental Illness (CAMI) after written informed consent.

RESULTS: There were no significant differences noted in Authoritarianism and Benevolence domains of CAMI. However, there were significant differences in the domains of Social Restrictiveness and Community Mental Health Ideology with psychiatric ward attendants scoring higher than the general attendants. Among the socio-demographic variables, there was significant correlation between age, duration of contact and educational background and various domains of CAMI.

CONCLUSIONS: Psychiatric ward attendants had more positive attitudes than general attendants towards psychiatric illnesses. Socio-demographic variables like older age, higher education and longer duration of contact with the psychiatrically ill predicted more favourable attitudes.

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