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Acta Med Okayama. 2000 Jun;54(3):127-32.

Effects of medical education on attitudes towards mental illness among medical students: a five-year follow-up study.

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  • 1Department of Hygiene and Preventive Medicine, Okayama University Medical School, Japan.


In order to clarify the effects of medical education on attitudes towards mental illness among medical students, a follow-up study was conducted. All 100 students entering Kochi Medical School in 1988 were subjects. The initial questionnaire survey was conducted in 1988, and followed up in 1993. Response rate was 69% in the initial survey, and 83% in the follow-up study. By the time of the follow-up, all of the students had completed their medical education, including courses in psychiatry and mental health. Results were as follows: At the follow-up study, 1) a significantly higher percentage of students replied that they accepted the mentally ill as co-workers; 2) significantly favorable changes were observed in attitudes towards psychiatric services; 3) optimism about the effectiveness of treatment for mental illness at an early stage and prevention of mental illness had decreased; and 4) no change was observed in attitudes toward human rights of the mentally ill, except in the case of one item stating that the mentally ill should not have children in order to avoid hereditary handicaps, with which a lower percentage agreed. Conclusively, medical education can play an important role in attitudes towards mental illness.

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