Stigma and perceived aggression towards schizophrenia in female students of medicine and psychology

Ana Fresán, Rebeca Robles-García, Nicolás Martínez-López, Carlos Alfonso Tovilla-Zárate, Eduardo Madrigal



Introduction. The main attitudes towards people with schizophrenia are fear and rejection, which derive from the idea that patients have no control over their behavior and that they are aggressive, violent, and/or dangerous. Several studies have shown that mental health professionals show negative attitudes towards patients with schizophrenia from the start of their professional training.

Objective. To compare the stigmatizing attitudes and perception of aggression of female undergraduate students of medicine and psychology towards people with schizophrenia.

Method. Fifty-seven (49.6%) undergraduate medical students and 58 (50.4%) psychology students in the early semesters of their professional training were included. Both groups answered the Opinion Scale on Mental Illness and the Public Concept of Aggressiveness Questionnaire (PCA).

Results. Over 60% of the students from both degree courses considered that the individual with schizophrenia described in the vignette could be aggressive, with a higher percentage corresponding to female students enrolled in the medical degree program. In this group, more negative attitudes towards the disease were observed in terms of separatism, restriction, and stigmatization.

Discussion and conclusion. It is essential to promote clear, objective information with a biopsychosocial approach to the disease in the syllabus in order to reduce or eliminate stigmatizing beliefs and attitudes regarding schizophrenia acquired prior to professional training.


Stigma; schizophrenia; medicine; psychology

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