Knowledge and attitudes of Masaryk University medical students towards electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)



Year of publication 2016
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source MEFANET journal
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Medicine

Field Psychiatry, sexuology
Keywords electroconvulsive therapy; ethics; attitudes; medical students
Description Background: Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is an efficient therapeutic procedure used in contemporary psychiatric practice. It is also considered one of the most controversial and stigmatized treatments in medicine. Studies evaluating the knowledge and attitudes of medical students towards ECT have been conducted in many countries. According to available data (Medline database), no such research has been performed in the Czech Republic. Objectives: The aims were to evaluate knowledge about and attitudes towards ECT of medical students, to assess the effectiveness of theoretical and practical lessons about ECT at the Department of Psychiatry, and to improve education and awareness about ECT. Methods: We conducted a prospective observation of medical student knowledge and attitudes concerning ECT and how they change after a two-week psychiatry rotation. These were evaluated using a questionnaire which was completed at the beginning and at the end of the rotation. Results: In total, 148 students in the 5th year of General Medicine were enrolled in the survey. Prior to the psychiatry rotation the majority of students drew their information about ECT from movies and television. Finding indicated a relatively low baseline level of knowledge about ECT before the lessons and a significant increase after two weeks of lessons; students with any previous personal experience with psychiatry had significantly higher scores in the knowledge test at the beginning of the rotation. Personal experience with ECT during the psychiatry lessons after the rotation had no effect on knowledge scores after the rotation. The baseline attitudes of students towards ECT were not overall negative. Positive change was observable, but less pronounced than expected. We did not observe a pronounced effect of ECT demonstration on student knowledge or attitudes. Conclusions: The depiction of ECT in the mass media is mostly negative and continues to influence student attitudes towards this therapy. We can speculate that the most important factors in improving student knowledge about and attitudes towards ECT are gaining more information about the procedure via theoretical lessons and having direct contact with psychiatry.

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