Skip to content
Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter March 28, 2015

Attitudes of medical students toward disabilities in Nigeria

  • Paul M. Ajuwon EMAIL logo , Foluso Ebun Afolabi Lesi , Oluwakemi Odukoya and Carrie Melia


This study investigated the attitudes of dental and medical students toward disability issues in Nigeria. The setting was the College of Medicine, University of Lagos (CMUL), Idi-Araba, Lagos, Nigeria. The researchers surveyed two groups of 500-level students (i.e., 142 medical and 42 dental students). Participants voluntarily and anonymously completed a survey in July 2013 after a year-long exposure to disabilities in class modules and community-based experiences. An exploratory factor analysis was conducted. The researchers found three factors, namely: caring for children with disabilities, eliminating disabilities and outlook toward disabilities. Participants exhibited the greatest sympathy toward caring for children with disabilities and for eliminating disabilities. However, participants overall had a negative outlook toward individuals with disabilities. Additionally, younger participants and female participants tended to be more sympathetic toward individuals with disabilities. Although the trends found in this research were largely positive, the researchers identified some negative patterns. Specifically, participants admitted to feeling frustrated while caring for individuals with disabilities. They also reported feeling that families of children with disabilities do not love and care for their children as much as other families. These findings, among other things, indicate that medical students in Nigeria could benefit from further education about disabilities.

Corresponding author: Paul M. Ajuwon, BS, MS, PhD, Department of Counseling, Leadership and Special Education, Missouri State University, 901 S. National Avenue, Springfield, MO 65897, USA, E-mail:


1. Grey House Publishing. Nations of the world: a political, economic and business handbook 2014, 13th ed. Amenia, NY: Grey House Publishing, 2013:2126.Search in Google Scholar

2. National Assembly. The Senate: National Assembly Federal Republic of Nigeria 2013;2:5. Available at: Accessed on 14 Jan 2014.Search in Google Scholar

3. Federal Republic of Nigeria. Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development. Available at: Accessed on 19 Mar 2014.Search in Google Scholar

4. Ajuwon PM. A study of Nigerian families who have a family member with Down syndrome. Int J Down Synd 2012;1:36–49.Search in Google Scholar

5. Lambo TA. Global concern for the disabled: its social and economic implications for Africa. Paper delivered at the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria, in Honor of the International Year of Disabled Persons (IYDP). Lagos, Nigeria, 1981.Search in Google Scholar

6. Ogunsemi OO, Odusan O, Olatawura MO. Stigmatising attitude of medical students towards a psychiatry label. Ann Gen Psych 2008;7:15.10.1186/1744-859X-7-15Search in Google Scholar

7. World Health Organization. Disability and rehabilitation WHO action plan 2006–2011. Available at: Accessed on 17 Feb 2014.Search in Google Scholar

8. Federal Ministry of Health. Reducing child morbidity and mortality in Nigeria. Abuja, Nigeria: Federal Ministry of Health 2006.Search in Google Scholar

9. United Nations. African decade of disabled persons. Addis Ababa, 2003. Available at: Accessed on 5 Apr 2014.Search in Google Scholar

10. Federal Republic of Nigeria. National policy on education 2013. Addis Ababa, Nigeria: Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2014.Search in Google Scholar

11. Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund. Nigerian disability decree of 1993. Available at: Accessed on 16 Apr 2014.Search in Google Scholar

12. Convention on the Rights of persons with Disabilities 2006. Available at: Accessed on 14 Jan 2014.Search in Google Scholar

13. Osain MW. The Nigerian health care system: need for integrating adequate medical intelligence and surveillance systems. J Pharm Bioallied Sci 2001;3:470–480.Search in Google Scholar

14. Uneke C, Ogbonna A, Ezeoha A, Oyibo P, Onwe F, Ngwu B. The Nigerian health sector and human resource challenges. Internet J Health 2007;8:1.Search in Google Scholar

15. Sulaiman S. Rich nation, poor citizens: the missing links for increasing output and alleviating poverty in Nigeria 2008. Available at: Accessed on 15 Apr 2014.Search in Google Scholar

16. Ajuwon PM, Brown I. Family quality of life in Nigeria. J Intellectual Disabil Res 2011;56:61–70.Search in Google Scholar

17. Bakare MO, Ebigbo PO, Agomoh AO, Eaton J, Onyeama GM, Okonkwo KO, et al. Knowledge about childhood autism and opinion among healthcare workers on availability of facilities and law caring for the needs and rights of children with childhood autism and other developmental disorders in Nigeria. BMC Paediatr 2009;9:12.10.1186/1471-2431-9-12Search in Google Scholar

18. Nwokolo OM. A psychologist’s perspective on the taboo of autism in Nigeria. Autism around the globe 2010. Available at: Accessed on 23 Jan 2014.Search in Google Scholar

19. Millennium Development Goals (MDGS) Office. Report of the National Baseline Survey on Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) in Nigeria 2011. Abuja, Nigeria: MDGS Office, with statistical support from the National Bureau of Statistics, 2011.Search in Google Scholar

20. Thistlethwaite JE, Ewart BR. Valuing diversity: helping medical students explore their attitudes and beliefs. Med Teach 2003;25:277–28.10.1080/0142159031000100346Search in Google Scholar

21. Kahtan S, Inman C, Haines A, Holland P. Teaching disability and rehabilitation to medical students. Steering Group on Medical Education and Disability. Med Educ 1994;28:386–393.10.1111/j.1365-2923.1994.tb02549.xSearch in Google Scholar

22. Paris MJ. Attitudes of medical students and health professionals towards people with disabilities. Arch Phys Med Rehabil 1993;74:818–25.10.1016/0003-9993(93)90007-WSearch in Google Scholar

23. Guardian Newspaper of Nigeria. Prince Benson from wheel chair, speech impairment to author, song writer, 2013.Search in Google Scholar

24. Byron M, Cockshott Z, Brownett H, Ramkalawan T. What does “disability” mean for medical students? An exploration of the words medical students associate with the term “disability”. Med Educ 2005;39:176–83.10.1111/j.1365-2929.2004.02062.xSearch in Google Scholar PubMed

25. Ekaete Umoh, Africa Human Rights (N.D.) Available at: Accessed on 22 May 2014.Search in Google Scholar

26. Shah P, Norlin C, Logsdon V, Samson-Fang L. Gynecological care for adolescents with disability: Physician comfort, perceived barriers, and potential solutions. J Pediatr Adolesc Gynecol 2005;18:101–4.10.1016/j.jpag.2005.01.004Search in Google Scholar PubMed

27. Graham CL, Brown RS, Zhen H, McDermott S. Teaching medical students about disability in family medicine. Fam Med 2009;41:542–4.Search in Google Scholar

28. Tervo RC, Azuma S, Palmer G, Redinius P. Medical students’ attitudes towards persons with disability: a comparative study. Arch Phys Med Rehabil 2002;83:1537–42.10.1053/apmr.2002.34620Search in Google Scholar PubMed

29. Tervo RC, Palmer G, Redinius P. Health professional student attitudes towards people with disabilities. Clin Rehabil 2004;18:908–15.10.1191/0269215504cr820oaSearch in Google Scholar PubMed

30. Iyor FT. Knowledge and attitude of Nigerian physiotherapy students about leprosy. Actionaid Disabil News 2005;87:85–92.Search in Google Scholar

31. Brown R, Graham CL, Richeson N, Wu J, McDermott S. Evaluation of medical student performance on objective structured clinical exams with standardized patients with and without disabilities. Acad Med 2010;85:1766–71.10.1097/ACM.0b013e3181f849dcSearch in Google Scholar PubMed

32. Campbell FK. Medical education and disability studies. J Med Humanit 2009;30:221–35.10.1007/s10912-009-9088-2Search in Google Scholar PubMed

33. Crotty M, Finucane P, Ahern M. Teaching medical students about disability and rehabilitation: methods and student feedback. Med Educ 2000;34:659–64.10.1046/j.1365-2923.2000.00621.xSearch in Google Scholar PubMed

34. Martin HL, Rowell MM, Reid SM, Marks MK, Reddihough DS: Cerebral palsy: what do medical students know and believe? Paediatr Child Health 2005;41:43–7.10.1111/j.1440-1754.2005.00534.xSearch in Google Scholar PubMed

35. Edwards JT, Davidson EJ, Houtrow EJ, Graham RJ. Pediatric resident attitudes toward caring for children with severe disabilities. Am J Phys Med Rehabil 2009;89:765–71.10.1097/PHM.0b013e3181ec9936Search in Google Scholar PubMed

36. Tabachnich BG, Fidell LS. Using multivariate statistics, 6th ed. Boston: Allyn & Bacon, 2007;1024.Search in Google Scholar

37. Bentler PM. Comparative fit indexes in structural models. Quant Meth Psychol 1990;107:238–6.10.1037/0033-2909.107.2.238Search in Google Scholar PubMed

38. Steiger JH, Lind JC. Statistically based tests for the number of common factors. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Psychometric Society, Iowa City, IA, 1980.Search in Google Scholar

39. Boyd SE, Sanders CL, Kleinert HL, Huff MB, Lock S, Johnson S, et al. Virtual patient training to improve reproductive health care for women with intellectual disabilities. J Midwifery Womens Health 2008;53:453–60.10.1016/j.jmwh.2008.04.017Search in Google Scholar PubMed

40. Hall I, Hollins S. Changing medical students’ attitudes to learning disability. Psychiatr Bull 2006;20:429–30.10.1192/pb.20.7.429Search in Google Scholar

41. Thacker A, Crabb N, Perez W, Raji O, Hollins S. How (and why) to employ simulated patients with intellectual disabilities. Clin Teach 2007;4:15–20.10.1111/j.1743-498X.2007.00135.xSearch in Google Scholar

42. Andrew NR, Siegel BS, Politch L, Coulter D. Teaching medical students about children with developmental disabilities. Child Care Health Dev 1998;4:307–16.Search in Google Scholar

43. Li C, Tsoi EW, Wang JC. Chinese college students’ attitudes toward people with intellectual disabilities: Differences by study major, gender, contact, and knowledge. Int J Dev Disabil 2012;58:137–44.10.1179/2047386912Z.00000000014Search in Google Scholar

44. Nwoke MB. Influence of cultural value system and home on child-rearing practices in the contemporary Nigerian society. Op J Philos 2013;3:200–6.10.4236/ojpp.2013.31A033Search in Google Scholar

45. Tella BA, Gbiri CA, Osho OA, Ogunrinu AE. Health-related quality of life of Nigerian children with cerebral palsy. Disabil CBR Inclus Devel 2011;22:95–104.10.5463/dcid.v22i2.24Search in Google Scholar

46. Federal Ministry of Education. National policy for integrated early childhood development in Nigeria. Abuja, Nigeria: Federal Ministry of Education, 2007.Search in Google Scholar

47. Lang R, Upah L. Scoping study: disability issues in Nigeria 2008. Available at: Accessed on 3 Feb 2014.Search in Google Scholar

Received: 2014-7-17
Accepted: 2014-10-25
Published Online: 2015-3-28
Published in Print: 2015-5-1

©2015 by De Gruyter

Downloaded on 23.2.2024 from
Scroll to top button