Most sub-Saharan African countries have fewer psychiatrists than one per one million people. One possible reason could be that medical students have a negative attitude toward the specialty. The authors evaluated the attitudes toward a career in psychiatry of final-year medical students in Kumasi, Ghana, and compare these with attitudes of medical students in Spain and the United States.Methods
Medical students were given a 28-item questionnaire on attitudes toward psychiatry, which was used in previous studies in Spain and the United States.Results
Ghanaian students (N = 94) had a fairly positive view of psychiatry, similar to those in Spain, although less positive than U.S. students. About 15% were considering psychiatry as a career option. There was evidence of significant stigmatization of patients with mental illness and psychiatrists and concern about the use of coercive detention of patients.Conclusions
The difficulty recruiting physicians into psychiatry in Ghana, and perhaps other African countries, is unlikely to be due to negative attitudes and may be due to a lack of opportunity to train in psychiatry.