Knowledge of and attitudes toward electroconvulsive therapy among medical students, psychology students, and the general public

J ECT. 2013 Mar;29(1):45-50. doi: 10.1097/YCT.0b013e31826c9f05.


Objective: Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is safe and effective for the treatment of various psychiatric disorders. Despite being a well-known treatment method among health care professionals, lay people generally have a negative opinion of ECT. The present study aimed to examine knowledge of and attitudes toward ECT among medical students, psychology students, and the general public. Psychology students were included because they are among the important groups in mental health care in Turkey.

Materials and methods: A Likert-type questionnaire was administered to fifth-year medical students (n = 28), master of science and doctor of philosophy clinical psychology students (n = 35), and a sample of the general public (n = 26). The questionnaire included questions about the general principles of and indications for ECT, and sources of knowledge of and attitudes toward ECT.

Results: The medical students were the most knowledgeable about ECT, as expected. The medical students also had a more positive attitude toward ECT than the other 2 groups. More psychology students had negative attitudes on some aspects than general public sample, despite being more knowledgeable.

Conclusions: Medical school theoretical and practical training in ECT played an important role in increasing the level of knowledge of and decreasing the prevalence of negative attitudes toward ECT among the medical students; similar training for psychology students is required to achieve similar results.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Data Collection
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Depression / therapy
  • Educational Status
  • Electroconvulsive Therapy* / adverse effects
  • Electroconvulsive Therapy* / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Internet
  • Male
  • Motion Pictures
  • Patient Preference
  • Psychology / education*
  • Public Opinion
  • Students, Health Occupations*
  • Students, Medical*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Turkey
  • Young Adult