Introduction: There are many challenges in addressing the growing concern of mental illness in Tanzania, including limited investment
in mental health education and lack of human resources needed to provide education. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the
change in psychiatric knowledge after an educational pre-clerkship intervention and to recognize the factors which impact stigma.
Methods: A randomized design was done using quantitative and qualitative data collection. The intervention randomized medical
students into two different groups. Those receiving small groups led by a resident or staff physician preceptors versus those led by
senior medical students. All students received the same didactic lectures and small group learning content. Participants received a
knowledge-based survey after the educational intervention. Focus groups involving medical student were collected after an educational
intervention. Data was analyzed using descriptive analysis, multiple regression, and thematic analysis.
Results: Students identified helpful features of the small groups teaching and limitations. They expressed improved understanding of
psychiatric illness. Responses suggested that teaching interventions increased understanding of the burden and increased willingness to
treat patients with psychiatric illness.
Discussion: Studies show a lack of resources for teaching and under-prioritization of mental health education which is consistent with
themes expressed by medical students. Consistent with the literature, there are strengths and limitations to using senior peers in
supporting medical education.
Conclusion: Continued creativity is needed to ensure interventions are effective at increasing knowledge with minimum human
resources. Improved education is found to increase knowledge around mental health and motivate further learning.