The attitudes of ‘tomorrow’s doctors’ towards mental illness and psychiatry: changes during the final undergraduate year


S. P. Singh Consultant Psychiatrist, South Block, University Hospital, Nottingham NG7 2UH, UK



To compare the efficacy of two teaching styles, didactic teaching and problem based learning, in producing enduring change in final-year medical students’ attitudes towards psychiatry and mental illness.


A 1-year follow-up questionnaire survey of two groups of medical students taught psychiatry in their fourth-year training by two different methods. One-year follow-up scores were compared with pre-attachment and post-attachment scores in the fourth year.


70 (68%) students completed both questionnaires at follow-up. The follow-up scores were significantly lower compared with both the fourth-year pre-attachment and post-attachment scores, suggesting that the positive change in attitudes following psychiatric training in the fourth year significantly decayed during the final year. The two teaching methods did not differ in the magnitude of this reduction.


The positive change that occurs in medical students’ attitude towards psychiatry, psychiatrists and mental illness after their fourth-year psychiatric training is transient and decays over the final year.