Prevalence of mistreatment or belittlement among medical students--a cross sectional survey at a private medical school in Karachi, Pakistan.

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Background: Mistreatment or belittlement of medical students either by faculty or fellow students has often been reported. Perception of mistreatment has also been associated with increased degree of psychological morbidity. There is a lack of such studies being conducted amongst the medical students of Pakistan. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence and forms of perceived mistreatment and presence of mental health morbidity in a private medical school in Pakistan. Also, any association between mental health morbidity and mistreatment was to be identified. Methods: A cross sectional study was carried out on medical students from Aga Khan University Hospital, Karachi, Pakistan during the period of June-September 2007. A self administered questionnaire, adapted from Frank et al and Baldwin et al was distributed to a total of 350 students. The questionnaire consisted of three parts: the first dealing with the demographics of the population, the second concerning the various forms of mistreatment, while the third assessed the mental health of students using the General Health Questionnaire 12(GHQ12). Descriptive statistics were performed. The Chi-square test and Fisher's exact tests were applied. Results: A total of 350 students were approached out of which 232 completed the questionnaire giving a response rate of 66.2%. Mistreatment was reported by 62.5% (145/232) of the respondents. Of these, 69.7% (83/145) were males and 54.9% (62/145) were females. There was a significant relationship between gender, year division, stress at medical school and possible use of drugs/alcohol and reported mistreatment but no statistical relationship was seen with psychiatric morbidity. The overall prevalence of psychological morbidity was 34.8% (77/221). Conclusion: This study suggests high prevalence of perceived mistreatment and psychological morbidity among Pakistani medical students. However, no association was found between these two aspects of medical student education. There is a need to bring about changes to make the medical education environment conducive to learning. Increased student feedback, support systems and guidance about progress throughout the year and the provision of adequate learning resources may provide help with resolving both of these issues.


Plos One