Stigmatizing attitudes toward patients with psychiatric disorders among medical students and professionals

Ana Margarida Oliveira, Daniel Machado, João B. Fonseca, Filipa Palha, Pedro Silva Moreira, Nuno Sousa, João J. Cerqueira, Pedro Morgado*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: Stigma attached to mental health encompasses discrimination and exclusion of psychiatric patients and hinders their opportunities to have more productive and fulfilling lives. Moreover, stigma also exists among health professionals, and therefore, it hampers the provision of treatment and care and the promotion of mental well-being. This manuscript intends to assess and compare the levels of stigmatization toward patients with mental illness between medical students and doctors from different specialties. Methods: The Portuguese version of Attribution Questionnaire (AQ-27) was used to assess the attitudes of medical students (n = 203), non-psychiatry doctors (n = 121), and psychiatry specialists (n = 29) from the University of Minho and three hospitals in the region of Braga, Portugal (Hospital de Braga, Hospital Senhora da Oliveira, and Hospital de Fafe). Results: Psychiatrists were the group that displayed lower levels of stigmatizing attitudes in all the items of the AQ-27, followed by the students. The regression analyses revealed that professional group and presence of a relative with mental illness were the factors that have a significant impact on the levels of stigmatization. Conclusions: Mental illness stigma is widely spread in community and reaches not only general population but also health professionals. Psychiatrists presented lower levels of stigma compared with non-psychiatry physicians and medical students. We found that stigma is related with age and the presence of relatives with psychiatric disorders. These findings highlight the critical relevance of raising awareness on this topic and, therefore, break stereotypes to reduce the negative consequences of stigma.
Original languageEnglish
Article number326
Number of pages7
JournalFrontiers in Psychiatry
Publication statusPublished - 30 Apr 2020


  • AQ-27
  • Mental health
  • Mental illness
  • Psychiatrists
  • Schizophrenia
  • Stigma
  • Students


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