Observing Electroconvulsive Therapy Changes Students’ Attitudes: A Survey of Croatian Medical Students

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Abstract

Aim

To assess the impact of education and direct observation of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) on medical students' attitudes toward ECT in particular and psychiatric treatment in general in Croatia.

Method

Two self-administered questionnaires were completed by year 4 medical students twice, at the beginning and the end of the psychiatry clerkship. Students were divided into 2 groups: those who observed an ECT session (47.9%) and those who did not (52.1%).

Results

The survey was completed by 190 students yielding a response rate of 79.8%. Students' attitudes toward ECT and other methods of psychiatric treatment and psychiatry in general changed in positive direction after the clerkship in both groups. However, the attitudes toward ECT of students who observed a live ECT session became more positive than those who did not. Likewise, students who observed ECT were more likely to agree to receive ECT and had better knowledge about ECT compared with the other group.

Conclusions

Having watched a live ECT session had a positive effect on students' attitudes toward ECT and other types of psychiatric treatment. Watching live ECT sessions should be mandatory during the psychiatric clerkship.

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