A Pilot Study of the Effect of Exposure to Stand-Up Comedy Performed by Individuals with Mental Illness on Medical Students’ Stigmatization of Those Affected

Amber L. Jarvie, Jane A. Buxton, Andrew C.H. Szeto, Jehannine C. Austin

ABSTRACT

Objective: Previous work shows that many medical professionals hold stigmatizing attitudes towards individuals with mental illness. Medical professionals’ stigmatizing attitudes have been associated with the decreased use of needed healthcare services among individuals with mental illness, which can exacerbate the effects and symptoms of the illness on the individual. Medical professionals’ attitudes are perhaps best modified early in their training. Thus, we aimed to determine whether a novel intervention could reduce medical students’ stigmatizing attitudes towards individuals with mental illness.
Methods: Students attended a presentation about a program that trains individuals with mental illness to perform stand-up comedy, and then interacted with the comedians in small groups. Immediately before (T1) and after (T2) the intervention, participants self-rated their comfort with asking patients about mental illness, and completed scales measuring two aspects of stigma: stereotype endorsement, and broad negative attitudes towards people with mental illness.
Results: T1 and T2 questionnaires were returned by 49 students. At T2, 52% reported feeling more comfortable asking patients about a history of mental illness. There was no change in broad attitudes towards mental illness, but endorsement of negative stereotypes about mental illness decreased significantly from T1 to T2.
Conclusions: These pilot data warrant further investigation of the effects of this novel intervention.

Full text (PDF, 725KB)

Jarvie AL, Buxton JA, Szeto ACH, Austin JC. A Pilot Study of the Effect of Exposure to Stand-Up Comedy Performed by Individuals with Mental Illness on Medical Students’ Stigmatization of Those Affected. UBCMJ 2013 5(1):15-18.