Stigmatizing attitudes towards mental illness: A cross-sectional survey of Australian medical students

Annora Ai Wei Kumar, Zhao Feng Liu, Jessica Han, Sasha Patil, Lucy Tang, Paul McGurgan, Osvaldo P. Almeida

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: We aimed to assess the degree of stigmatizing attitudes and psychological distress amongst Australian medical students in order to better understand factors that may impact help-seeking behaviours of students. We hypothesize that sociodemographic factors will not significantly predict stigmatizing attitudes, and increasing levels of psychological distress will be associated with increasing stigma. Methods: A cross-sectional online survey was distributed to medical students at Western Australian universities and members of the Australian Medical Students’ Association. Stigma was scored using the Mental Illness Clinicians’ Attitudes (MICA-2) scale. Psychological distress was assessed using the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS). Participants provided information about gender, age, spirituality, financial hardship, treatment for mental illness, and experience in psychiatry. Results: There were 598 responses. The mean (Standard Deviation) MICA-2 score was 36.8 (7.5) out of a maximum of 96, and the mean (SD) HADS depression score was 4.7 (3.7). The mean (SD) HADS anxiety score was 9.3 (4.4). Past or current treatment for a mental illness was associated with lower MICA-2 scores. There was no association between MICA-2 and HADS scores, or sociodemographic factors. Conclusions: Our results demonstrate relatively low MICA-2 scores and high HADS-A scores overall, with no association between HADS scores and stigma.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)734-740
Number of pages7
JournalAustralasian Psychiatry
Issue number6
Early online date19 Sept 2023
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023


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