Empathy and attitudes towards mental illness among Italian medical students

Gino Pozzi, Luigi Janiri, Marco Pascucci, Andrea De Angelis, Antonio Ventriglio, Eleonora Stella, Dario Di Sabatino, Maddalena La Montagna, Rossana Nicastro, Antonello Bellomo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


There is a growing interest regarding the attitudes of medical students towards people with mental illness, since discrimination and stigma may affect healthcare workers and education should be aimed to improve empathy and attitudes at medical school level. A cross-sectional study was conducted at medical schools in Rome and Foggia (Italy). We recruited 339 medical students who completed an anonymous self-report questionnaire including sociodemographic data, the 40-item Community Attitudes toward the Mentally Ill scale (CAMI) and the 60-item Baron Cohen’s Empathy Quotient. The questionnaires were administered before and after the yearly academic course of psychiatry. This study shows a significant improvement in some CAMI items and total score after the yearly academic course of psychiatry among medical students, especially among those who had personal experience with mentally ill people (including the training in a psychiatric ward). Female students reported higher empathy quotient and CAMI scores. Students who preferred medical disciplines to surgical ones seemed to be less stigmatizing towards mental illness. Our results confirm evidence from the scientific literature about medical students’ attitudes towards mental illness and highlight that the improvements in the attitudes increased improving students’ psychiatric knowledge, both theoretical and practical.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Culture and Mental Health
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Attitudes
  • Cultural Studies
  • Psychiatry and Mental Health
  • Social Psychology
  • empathy
  • medical students
  • psychiatry
  • social stigma


Dive into the research topics of 'Empathy and attitudes towards mental illness among Italian medical students'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this