Objective To determine the barriers to seeking help from healthcare services reported by medical students at an Indian medical school, and to compare the barriers for using physical health services with those for using mental health services.
Methods In 2014, we invited all medical students across the nine semesters of training at a government medical college in Puducherry, India, to complete a 28 item questionnaire about perceived barriers to seeking healthcare services. The questionnaire enquired about barriers to using physical and mental healthcare services separately.
Results Completed responses were available from 461 of 509 students (response rate 90.6%). Stigma, confidentiality issues, lack of awareness about where to seek help and fear of unwanted intervention were more commonly reported for mental healthcare seeking (OR 4.21, 4.01, 3.19 and 2.43, respectively), while issues relating to cost, lack of time and fear of side effects were observed less frequently (OR 0.45, 0.46 and 0.57, respectively) compared with physical healthcare seeking. In comparison with physical health, students were more indifferent to their mental health issues and preferred self-diagnosis and informal consultations over formal documented care.
Conclusions Barriers to seeking healthcare services differ for mental and physical health issues. Many system based barriers such as stigma, confidentiality issues and poor awareness of service location were reported by students. Institutional programmes should use this information for improving the usage, satisfaction and effectiveness of healthcare delivery systems for medical students.
- HEALTH SERVICES ADMINISTRATION & MANAGEMENT
- MEDICAL EDUCATION & TRAINING
- MENTAL HEALTH
- PUBLIC HEALTH