Knowledge and attitude of postgraduate students in Kenya on ethics in mental health research

Beatrice Amagune, G C Verster


Background. Most people with mental illness live in developing countries, where a large proportion of these illnesses are undiagnosed and untreated. As effort is made to encourage mental health (MH) research as an avenue to optimise the management of mental illness,this should be accompanied by adequate knowledge, correct attitude and practice on ethical conduct of research. This study reports the knowledge and attitude among postgraduate students in Kenya on ethics in MH research.

Methods. Consenting students undertaking master’s degree courses (n=40) with interest in carrying out MH research were assessed using adapted standard tools for assessing knowledge and attitude. Primary comparison is made on the level of knowledge and attitude between the different cohorts.

Results. Participants undertaking postgraduate degrees in medicine, clinical psychology, pharmacy and nursing were individually scored and collectively found to have a medium (n=32, 79.5%) or high (n=8, 20.5%) level of knowledge. The general attitude towards most aspects of the consent process and confidentiality was observed to be appropriate. Low knowledge of international ethics guidelines was observed.

Conclusion. Gaps in knowledge and attitude on ethics among the participants have been identified, and this may initiate the process of appropriate interventions necessary in maintenance of ethical practices in the management of mental illness.

Authors' affiliations

Beatrice Amagune, Centre for Medical Ethics and Law, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town

G C Verster, Department of Psychiatry, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town

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Kenya; knowledge; attitude postgraduate students; research; mental health

Cite this article

South African Journal of Bioethics and Law 2016;9(2):65. DOI:10.7196/SAJBL.2016.v9i2.470

Article History

Date submitted: 2016-04-26
Date published: 2016-10-18

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