Long-Term Effect of a Stigma-Reduction Educational Intervention for Physician Assistants

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Abstract

Purpose

Stigma towards people with substance use disorders is a common phenomenon with far reaching effects. This study evaluated the long-term effect of using an educational intervention on the attitudes of physician assistant students.

Methods

Physician assistant students received a one-week educational intervention focused on substance abuse. Changes in student attitudes were measured one year later using the Attitude to Mental Health Questionnaire (AMIQ).

Results

Significant and sustained improvement was noted in attitudes in the AMIQ score for the opiate use disorder vignette; no significant change was noted in the alcohol use disorder vignette.

Conclusions

The persistence of improved attitudes (although they remained negative) in study participants towards people with opiate use disorders is a cautiously encouraging finding. Educational interventions can have a sustained effect on stigma reduction, but much more work on the etiology of these implicit and explicit beliefs is needed to inform robust future interventions.

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