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What attitudes do psychiatrists hold towards people with mental illness?

  • David Kingdon (a1), Tonmoy Sharma (a2), Deborah Hart (a3) and Deborah Hart The Schizophrenia Subgroup of The Royal College of Psychiatrists' Changing Minds Campaign
Abstract
Aims and Method

To investigate the attitudes that psychiatrists hold towards people with mental illness. Each member of the Royal College of Psychiatrists in the UK was sent a questionnaire based on previous research in this area, supplemented with relevant questions on management.

Results

2813 of 6524 questionnaires were returned (43%). Psychiatrists' attitudes compared favourably with those of the general population. Among other findings, they believed that the risk of dangerousness was overemphasised, that misdiagnosis of schizophrenia in Black people is common, and that polypharmacy and the use of antipsychotic medication above British National Formulary levels occurs too often.

Clinical Implications

Psychiatrists' attitudes are substantially more favourable towards people with mental illness than those of the general population with individual, but important, exceptions. Some aspects of psychiatric management, especially of antipsychotic medication, may undermine this, however. Comparison with other groups, e.g. general practitioners, nurses and social workers, would be useful in planning how to reduce the stigmatisation of people with mental illness.

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Copyright
This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
References
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Breggin, P. (1991) Toxic Psychiatry. London: Harper Collins.
Crisp, A. H., Gelder, M. G., Rix, S., et al (2000) Stigmatisation of people with mental illnesses. British Journal of Psychiatry, 177, 47.
Harrison, G., Owens, D., Holton, A., et al (1988) A prospective study of severe mental disorder in Afro – Caribbean patients. Psychological Medicine, 18, 643657.
Hickling, F.W., Mckenzie, K., Mullen, R., et al (1999) A Jamaican psychiatrist evaluates diagnoses at a London psychiatric hospital. British Journal of Psychiatry, 175, 283285.
Mukherjee, R., Fiahlo, A., Wijetunge, A., et al (2002) The stigmatisation of psychiatric illness: the attitudes of medical students and doctors in a London teaching hospital. Psychiatric Bulletin, 26, 178181.
Sensky, T., Turkington, D., Kingdon, D., et al (2000) A randomised controlled trial of cognitive–behavioral therapy for persistent symptoms in schizophrenia resistant to medication. Archives of General Psychiatry, 57, 165172.
Taylor, S. M. & Dear, M. J. (1981) Scaling community attitudes to the mentally ill. Schizophrenia Bulletin, 7, 225240.
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BJPsych Bulletin
  • ISSN: 0955-6036
  • EISSN: 1472-1473
  • URL: /core/journals/bjpsych-bulletin
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What attitudes do psychiatrists hold towards people with mental illness?

  • David Kingdon (a1), Tonmoy Sharma (a2), Deborah Hart (a3) and Deborah Hart The Schizophrenia Subgroup of The Royal College of Psychiatrists' Changing Minds Campaign
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