Effect of an Interactive Education on Electroconvulsive Therapy Perception in Nursing Students


  • Justin Cantley
  • Kelly E. Tapp
  • Brian P. Miller
  • Justin Lu




ECT; education; electroconvulsive therapy; nursing; nursing students; stigma; mental illness; popular media


Objectives: Evidence suggests poor education is associated with negative attitudes toward ECT. Our study was designed
to evaluate the perceptions of nursing students towards ECT before, and after, a clinical experience during ECT. The
hypothesis is that an interactive education about ECT correlates with more positive attitudes regarding ECT treatment.
Methods: Between November 2016 and March 2017, researchers surveyed 24 nursing students attending clinical at a
southern California psychiatric hospital. Students completed a pre-education and post-education survey. The surveys
consisted of 15 and 16 questions, respectively, regarding attitudes and sources of knowledge. The intervention consisted
of one four-hour rotation of clinical experience participating in ECT.
Results: The intervention was found to be statistically significant in the areas of education for indication and personal
attitudes toward recommending ECT. The study revealed a connection between increased positive responses toward
ECT and a baseline education on ECT treatment. Prior to the clinical experience, 13% believed ECT caused brain damage,
67% believed ECT to be humane and safe, and 58% believed ECT was more effective than medication. In the post-survey,
96% of participants believed ECT to be appropriate for treating severe depression, suicidal ideation, bipolar depression,
and bipolar mania. 79% indicated ECT for the treatment of schizophrenia. For the questions concerning common
misconceptions about ECT, 100% of participants believed that ECT is a safe and humane treatment that is more effective
than medication and viewed short-term confusion and short-term memory loss as the most common side effects of ECT.

Author Biographies

Justin Cantley

Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner, SHARP Grossmont Hospital

Kelly E. Tapp

Nursing Manager, Department of Behavioral Health, Sharp Grossmont Hospital

Brian P. Miller

Medical Director, Sharp Grossmont Hospital

Justin Lu

Scribe, Sharp Grossmont Hospital




How to Cite

Justin Cantley, Kelly E. Tapp, Brian P. Miller, & Justin Lu. (2022). Effect of an Interactive Education on Electroconvulsive Therapy Perception in Nursing Students. International Journal of Psychiatric Nursing, 9(1), 27–32. https://doi.org/10.37506/ijpn.v9i1.18833