Mental health knowledge in a final year chiropractic cohort: implications for learning and teaching

Stephney Whillier, Madeleine Ferrari

Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting abstract


Objective: Chiropractors are primary health care providers, and must be able to recognize possible mental illness in patients. Adequate knowledge of mental health issues improves rates of referral to appropriate mental health services, creates a better understanding of the biopsychosocial aspects of the condition, and facilitates interdisciplinary management. This study investigated the mental health knowledge and misconceptions of final year chiropractic students. Methods: Ethics approval was obtained from Macquarie University HREC (reference number 5201500120). A total of 89 students completed an online questionnaire assessing mental health knowledge, myths and misconceptions, the value of such knowledge for practicing chiropractors, and demographic information. Results: Student knowledge of the primary symptoms for depression and schizophrenia was competent, similar to community samples. However, a high false-positive response tendency suggested students were less competent at mental health differential diagnosis. A high number of common myths and misconceptions about mental health also were endorsed, particularly in relation to depression, anxiety, and suicide. Age and value of such knowledge seemed to predict greater mental health literacy. Conclusions: The present study offers direction for the chiropractic teaching program at Macquarie University. In addition to a need for increased content-based education, mental health literacy may improve through targeting the student's perceived value of the information for chiropractors, and combating common myths and misconceptions. Future research could evaluate the incremental value of teaching and program modifications, and assess subsequent behavioral responses, such as the student's confidence in managing patients with mental health concerns, and knowing when to refer on.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e-171
Number of pages1
JournalThe Journal of Chiropractic Education
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2016
EventWorld Federation of Chiropractic/Association of Chiropractic Colleges Education Conference 2016 - Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Duration: 19 Oct 201622 Oct 2016

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