Hostname: page-component-848d4c4894-p2v8j Total loading time: 0.001 Render date: 2024-05-19T18:14:44.623Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

Medical and nursing students' attitudes to people with mental illness in Nigeria: a tale of two teaching hospitals

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 January 2018

Theddeus Iheanacho
Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut, USA, email
Elina Stefanovics
Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, USA
Victor Makanjuola
University College Hospital, Ibadan, Nigeria
Carla Marienfeld
Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut, USA
Robert Rosenheck
Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut, USA
Rights & Permissions [Opens in a new window]


Core share and HTML view are not available for this content. However, as you have access to this content, a full PDF is available via the ‘Save PDF’ action button.

This study compared beliefs about and attitudes to mental illness among medical and nursing students at two teaching hospitals in Nigeria with very different levels of psychiatric instructional capacity. Factor analysis of responses to a 43-item self-report questionnaire identified three domains: social acceptance of people with mental illness; belief in non-superstitious causation of mental illness; and stress, trauma and poverty as external causes of mental illness, with entitlement to employment rights. Students at the hospital with a larger, functioning psychiatry department had significantly higher scores on all three factors. Culturally enshrined beliefs and attitudes about mental illness are not uncommon among medical trainees. The availability of psychiatric education and services may have a positive effect on beliefs and attitudes.

Research paper
Creative Commons
Creative Common License - CCCreative Common License - BYCreative Common License - NCCreative Common License - ND
This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives licence (, which permits noncommercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is unaltered and is properly cited. The written permission of Cambridge University Press must be obtained for commercial re-use or in order to create a derivative work.
Copyright © Royal College of Psychiatrists 2014


Corrigan, P. W. (2011) Best practices. Strategic stigma change (SSC): five principles for social marketing campaigns to reduce stigma. Psychiatric Services, 62, 824826.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Fischel, T., Manna, H., Krivoy, A., et al (2008) Does a clerkship in psychiatry contribute to changing medical students' attitudes towards psychiatry? Academic Psychiatry, 32, 147150.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Gureje, O., Lasebikan, V. O., Ephraim-Oluwanuga, O., et al (2005) Community study of knowledge of and attitude to mental illness in Nigeria. British Journal of Psychiatry, 186, 436441.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Gureje, O., Olley, B. O., Ephraim-Oluwanuga, O., et al (2006) Do beliefs about causation influence attitudes to mental illness? World Psychiatry, 5, 104107.Google ScholarPubMed
Klecha, D., Barke, A. & Gureje, O. (2004) Die Versorgung psychisch Kranker in den Landern der dritten Welt am Beispiel von Nigeria. [Mental healthcare in developing countries: the example of Nigeria.] Nervenarzt, 75, 11181122.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Lauber, C. & Rossler, W. (2007) Stigma towards people with mental illness in developing countries in Asia. International Review of Psychiatry, 19, 157178.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Ogunsemi, O. O., Odusan, O. & Olatawura, M. O. (2008) Stigmatising attitude of medical students towards a psychiatry label. Annals of General Psychiatry, 7, 15.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Saxena, S., Sharan, P., Garrido, M., et al (2006) World Health Organization's Mental Health Atlas 2005: implications for policy development. World Psychiatry, 5, 179184.Google ScholarPubMed
Schulze, B. (2007) Stigma and mental health professionals: a review of the evidence on an intricate relationship. International Review of Psychiatry, 19, 137155.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Segal, D. L., Coolidge, F. L., Mincic, M. S., et al (2005) Beliefs about mental illness and willingness to seek help: a cross-sectional study. Aging and Mental Health, 9, 363367.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Taylor, S. M. & Dear, M. J. (1981) Scaling community attitudes toward the mentally ill. Schizophrenia Bulletin, 7, 225240.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Wolff, G., Pathare, S., Craig, T., et al (1996) Community knowledge of mental illness and reaction to mentally ill people. British Journal of Psychiatry, 168, 191198.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
World Psychiatric Association (2000) The WPA Programme to Reduce Stigma and Discrimination Because of Schizophrenia. WPA.Google Scholar
Submit a response


No eLetters have been published for this article.