Predicting medical students' current attitudes toward psychiatry, interest in psychiatry, and estimated likelihood of working in psychiatry: A cross-sectional study in four European countries

Ingeborg Warnke, Alex Gamma, Maria Buadze, Roman Schleifer, Carlos Canela, Bernd Strebel, T. Tényi, Wulf Rössler, Nicolas Rüsch, Michael Liebrenz

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4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Psychiatry as a medical discipline is becoming increasingly important due to the high and increasing worldwide burden associated with mental disorders. Surprisingly, however, there is a lack of young academics choosing psychiatry as a career. Previous evidence on medical students' perspectives is abundant but has methodological shortcomings. Therefore, by attempting to avoid previous shortcomings, we aimed to contribute to a better understanding of the predictors of the following three outcome variables: current medical students' attitudes toward psychiatry, interest in psychiatry, and estimated likelihood of working in psychiatry. The sample consisted of N = 1,356 medical students at 45 medical schools in Germany and Austria as well as regions of Switzerland and Hungary with a German language curriculum. We used snowball sampling via Facebook with a link to an online questionnaire as recruitment procedure. Snowball sampling is based on referrals made among people. This questionnaire included a German version of the Attitudes Toward Psychiatry Scale (ATP-30-G) and further variables related to outcomes and potential predictors in terms of sociodemography (e.g., gender) or medical training (e.g., curriculum-related experience with psychiatry). Data were analyzed by linear mixed models and further regression models. On average, students had a positive attitude to and high general interest in, but low professional preference for, psychiatry. A neutral attitude to psychiatry was partly related to the discipline itself, psychiatrists, or psychiatric patients. Female gender and previous experience with psychiatry, particularly curriculum-related and personal experience, were important predictors of all outcomes. Students in the first years of medical training were more interested in pursuing psychiatry as a career. Furthermore, the country of the medical school was related to the outcomes. However, statistical models explained only a small proportion of variance. The findings indicate that particularly curriculum-related experience is important for determining attitudes toward psychiatry, interest in the subject and self-predicted professional career choice. We therefore encourage the provision of opportunities for clinical experience by psychiatrists. However, further predictor variables need to be considered in future studies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number49
JournalFrontiers in Psychiatry
Volume9
Issue numberMAR
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 12 2018

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Keywords

  • Attitudes toward psychiatry
  • Curriculum-related experience
  • Gender
  • Interest in psychiatry
  • Medical school
  • Multivariable modeling
  • Professional preference
  • Study year

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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