The authors designed an intervention to reduce beginning medical students’ stigmatization of people with chronic mental illness (CMI).
Pre-clinical medical students visited a state psychiatric facility’s “Living Museum,” a combination patient art studio/display space, as the intervention. During the visit, students interacted with artist-guides who showed their work and discussed their experiences creating art. Students completed a self-assessment survey developed to measure attitudes and feelings toward people with CMI after half of the class visited the Living Museum, constituting a Visit/No-Visit cross-sectional comparison.
Students who visited the Living Museum (N=64), as compared with those who did not visit (N=110), endorsed more positive attitudes toward people with CMI. Among the students who visited, however, those who reported having spoken individually with a patient-artist (N=44), paradoxically, indicated less-positive feelings toward people with CMI.
An intervention in which pre-clinical medical students visited patient-artist guides in an art-studio setting generally improved students’ attitudes toward people with CMI. Thus, nontraditional psychiatric settings offer a valuable adjunct to more traditional clinical settings to reduce stigma when introducing medical students to the field of psychiatry.