ATTITUDES TOWARDS PERSONS WITH MENTAL ILLNESS AMONG UNIVERSITY STUDENTS
Redhwan Ahmed Al-Naggar
Objective: Globally, there is growing evidence of stigmatization of people with mental illnesses and mental illness is more stigmatizing than physical illnesses. Therefore, this study aimed to determine the attitudes of university students towards persons with mental illness. Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted among Management and Science University students during the academic year 2012. Prior ethical approval was taken for conducting the study. A total of 300 medical and health science students was recruited in this study and the response rate was 93%. The survey questionnaire was adopted from a previous study with 15 statements about attitude towards mental health illness and sociodemographic characteristics. Classes were chosen randomly and students also randomly selected. The inclusion criterion for this research was medical and health science students while the exclusion criterion was students from other faculties, staff and lecturers. Data was analyzed with the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences version 13.0. Descriptive statistics were used for the analysis of the basic demographics and survey items of the questionnaire. T-test and multiple linear regression were used to explore the relationship between the socio-demographic and the attitude. Results: A total number of 279 students participated in this study. The majority of them were female, age 20 years and above, single, Malay, from International Medical School (IMS) and from urban areas (68.5%, 88.2%, 96.4%, 58.1%, 60.2%, 77.8%; respectively). In this study, the majority of the participants showed a moderate to good attitude towards people with mental illness. Univariate analysis showed that marital status influenced the attitudes of university students towards people with mental illness (p=0.015). In multivariate analysis, multiple linear regression showed that gender, marital status, smoking and drinking alcohol significantly influenced the attitude of university students towards people with mental illness (p=0.014, p=0.012; p=0.009, p=0.013; respectively). Conclusion: This study showed that the undergraduate university students had a moderate to good attitude towards people with mental illness. Gender, marital status, smoking and drinking alcohol significantly influenced the attitude of undergraduate university students towards people with mental illness.