Status quo of German-speaking medical students’ attitudes toward and knowledge about central aspects of forensic psychiatry across four European countries

Ingeborg Warnke, Alex Gamma, Anna Buadze, Roman Schleifer, Carlos Canela, Nicolas Rüsch, Wulf Rössler, Bernd Strebel, Tamás Tényi, Michael Liebrenz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

While forensic psychiatry is of increasing importance in mental health care, limited available evidence shows that attitudes toward the discipline are contradictory and that knowledge about it seems to be limited in medical students. We aimed to shed light on this subject by analyzing medical students’ central attitudes toward and their association with knowledge about forensic psychiatry as well as with socio-demographic and education-specific predictor variables. We recruited N = 1345 medical students from 45 universities with a German language curriculum across four European countries (Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Hungary) by using an innovative approach, namely snowball sampling via Facebook. Students completed an online questionnaire, and data were analyzed descriptively and multivariably by linear mixed effects models and multinomial regression. The results showed overall neutral to positive attitudes toward forensic psychiatry, with indifferent attitudes toward the treatment of sex offenders, and forensic psychiatrists’ expertise in the media. Whereas medical students knew about the term ‘forensic psychiatry’ they showed a lack of specific medico-legal knowledge. Multivariable models on predictor variables revealed statistically significant findings with, however, small estimates and variance explanation. Therefore, further research is required along with the development of a refined assessment instrument for medical students to explore both attitudes and knowledge in forensic psychiatry.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9-16
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Law and Psychiatry
Volume58
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2018

Keywords

  • Attitudes
  • Forensic psychiatry
  • Knowledge
  • Medical students
  • Medical training

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Law

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