Responding to experienced and anticipated discrimination (READ): anti -stigma training for medical students towards patients with mental illness – study protocol for an international multisite non-randomised controlled study
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BACKGROUND: Stigma and discrimination are a significant public health concern and cause great distress to people with mental illness. Healthcare professionals have been identified as one source of this discrimination. In this article we describe the protocol of an international, multisite controlled study, evaluating the effectiveness of READ, an anti-stigma training for medical students towards patients with mental illness. READ aims to improve students' ability to minimise perceived discriminatory behaviours and increase opportunities for patients, therefore developing the ability of future doctors to address and challenge mental illness related discrimination. READ includes components that medical education research has shown to be effective at improving attitudes, beliefs and understanding. METHODS/DESIGN: READ training was developed using evidence based components associated with changes in stigma related outcomes. The study will take place in multiple international medical schools across high, middle and low income countries forming part of the INDIGO group network, with 25 sites in total. Students will be invited to participate via email from the lead researcher at each site during their psychiatry placement, and will be allocated to an intervention or a control arm according to their local teaching group at each site. READ training will be delivered solely to the intervention arm. Standardised measures will be used to assess students' knowledge, attitudes and skills regarding discrimination in both the intervention and control groups, at baseline and at follow up immediately after the intervention. Statistical analyses of individual-level data will be conducted using random effects models accounting for clustering within sites to investigate changes in mean or percentages of each outcome, at baseline and immediately after the intervention. DISCUSSION: This is the first international study across high, middle and low income countries, which will evaluate the effectiveness of training for medical students to respond effectively to patients' experiences and anticipation of discrimination. The results will promote implementation of manualised training that will help future doctors to reduce the impact of mental illness related discrimination on their patients. Limitations of the study are also discussed.
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