Open Access Research article

A controlled trial of mental illness related stigma training for medical students

Aliya Kassam12*, Nick Glozier13, Morven Leese1, Joanne Loughran4 and Graham Thornicroft1

Author Affiliations

1 Section of Community Mental Health Health Service and Population Research Department, King's College London, Institute of Psychiatry, De Crespigny Park, Denmark Hill, London SE5 8AF UK

2 Department of Community Health Sciences University of Calgary 3rd Floor TRW 3280 Hospital Drive NW, Calgary, T2N 4Z6 Canada

3 Discipline of Psychiatry, Sydney Medical School, The University of Sydney, NSW 2006 Australia

4 Mental Health Promotion, Rethink, Floor 15, 89 Albert Embankment, London, SE1 7TP UK

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BMC Medical Education 2011, 11:51  doi:10.1186/1472-6920-11-51

Published: 29 July 2011



The evidence base for mental illness related stigma interventions in health care professionals and trainees is underdeveloped. This study aimed to examine the impact of mental illness related stigma training on third year medical students' knowledge, attitudes and behaviour related to people with mental illness.


A non-randomised controlled trial was conducted with 110 third year medical students at a medical school in England to determine the effectiveness of a mental illness related stigma training package that targeted their knowledge, attitudes and behaviour.


We detected a significant positive effect of factual content and personal testimonies training upon an improvement in knowledge, F(1, 61) = 16.3, p = 0.0002. No such difference was determined with attitudes or for behaviour.


Knowledge, attitudes and behaviour may need to be separately targeted in stigma reduction interventions, and separately assessed. The inter-relationships between these components in mental health promotion and medical education warrant further research. The study next needs to be replicated with larger, representative samples using appropriate evaluation instruments. More intensive training for medical students may also be required.