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Afr J Med Med Sci. 2007 Dec;36(4):345-51.

A comparative study of attitude to mental illness between journalists and nurses in Uyo, Nigeria.

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Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Clinical Sciences, College of Health Sciences, University of Uyo, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria.


The pernicious attitudes to mental illness often result from ignorance and enduring sociocultural prejudices. The endless negative depiction of mentally ill persons by the society is responsible for poor mental health services and care, thus the increasing number of persons with mental illness roaming the streets in our environment. The objectives of the study were: First to assess the attitude of the Journalists to mental illness. Secondly to compare the journalists' attitudes with that of the Nurses. Two hundred and fifty Journalists in Uyo were randomly assessed for attitudes to mental illness, using Taylor and Dear Inventory of Community Attitude to mental illness. This was compared with Nurses from Health Centers in Uyo. Data from 210 (84.0%) Journalists and 154 (85.6%) Nurses were analyzed, 40 (16.0%) of Journalists and 26 (14.4%) of Nurses were excluded due to incomplete information. The mean age of the two groups was 39.4 +/- 8.3 and 34.4 +/- 7.6 years respectively. The difference in the mean was statistically significant (p = 0.001). Responses were similar in the two groups. Negative opinions were prevalent among the respondents in the region of over 70% among Journalist and 60% in Nurses in most cases. Except marrying people with mental illness, other responses were statistically significant. There is a widespread negative attitude to mental illness among Journalists and this is a reflection of the general population. The media is the primary source of public information. Therefore, accurate and positive portrayal of mental illness on both electronic and printing media may be necessary to sensitize the public so as to improve the negative cultural environment surrounding persons with mental illness.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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