Objectives. To create a doctor of pharmacy curricular experience that will decrease students’ social barriers to interaction with and treatment of mentally-ill patients.
Design. We created a survey instrument to measure 4 aspects of students’ conceptions of schizophrenia and clinical depression: (1) understanding of the medical nature of each disease, (2) understanding of patient behavior, (3) belief in the efficacy of treatment, and (4) social distance. We delivered this instrument before and after a neuropsychiatry curriculum including ‘‘peer-level patient presenters’’ in addition to the traditional first-year pharmacy curriculum.
Assessment. Social-distance scores significantly decreased in first-year pharmacy students who attended peer-level patient presentations, indicating increased willingness to interact with persons with schizophrenia and clinical depression. In addition, students’ understanding of the causes of illness, behavior of patients, and most importantly, efficacy of drug counseling for these diseases increased.
Conclusions. Changes to the curriculum including the addition of peer-level patient presentations can quantitatively decrease pharmacy students’ social barriers to the treatment of mentally-ill patients.
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