Mental health professionals' attitudes toward and knowledge of electroconvulsive therapy
Lutchman, Russell D.
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The efficacy and safety of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) have been established, yet widespread negative public attitudes towards the procedure remain. Little research has been carried out into the attitudes towards and knowledge of ECT among mental health staff of different disciplines. Method: Two hundred and sixty-eight staff from four mental health disciplines (psychiatrists, psychologists, nurses and social workers) were sent the Questionnaire on Attitudes and Knowledge of ECT (QuAKE) and asked about demographic details. Attitudes and knowledge were compared by discipline and the results analysed using the Kruskal-Wallis test. Results: The response rate was 74% (n=198). The questionnaire revealed significant differences in attitudes to and knowledge of the therapy between the four disciplines, with psychiatrists being most favourably disposed and most knowledgeable, followed by nurses, social workers and psychologists. The attitudes scale was shown to have good internal consistency and split-half reliability. Conclusion: Discipline is an accurate predictor of attitudes towards ECT. There is a need for awareness of differences of opinion towards the treatment in multidisciplinary teams, as well as for better education about ECT for all members of the clinical team.