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Afr Health Sci. 2009 Dec;9(4):279-83.

Unmodified electroconvulsive therapy: changes in knowledge and attitudes of Nigerian medical students.

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  • 1Department of Clinical Services, Federal Psychiatric Hospital, Benin City, Nigeria.



The relevance of ECT as a treatment option for some psychiatric disorders continues to generate debate in professional and lay circles. Scientific evidence as to the effectiveness of ECT (with anaesthesia) abounds. In some developing countries, the process of change towards the full implementation and use of modified ECT has been slow. The unmodified format is still used for largely economic reasons despite the ethical concerns it raises.


We assessed the effect of an intervention (60 minute lecture on ECT, viewing a live ECT session, following up a patient who had received ECT) during a clinical psychiatry rotation, on medical students' knowledge of and attitude toward unmodified electroconvulsive therapy


A 14-item self administered questionnaire was administered to 5(th) year medical students at the commencement of their psychiatry rotation, then 4 weeks later to assess knowledge of and attitudes toward unmodified ECT RESULTS: There were significant improvements in knowledge and change in attitude measures to myth about ECT following our intervention. However, viewing live unmodified ECT sessions did not improve the students' acceptability of the procedure.


Exposure of medical students to ECT and lectures are important in changing negative attitudes during clerkships and should be incorporated in their teaching curriculum. We may infer that future psychiatrists would prefer the modified form of ECT and acceptability would be better with this format.

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