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