Nurses' knowledge of and attitude to electroconvulsive therapy

Julia Helen Wood, Mary Chambers, Sarah Jane White
Journal of ECT 2007, 23 (4): 251-4

UNLABELLED: The relationship between the nurse and patient is usually close. The nature of nursing means that nurses spend more hours with patients than other health care professionals. Therefore, nurses' knowledge of and attitude to electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is important because it is likely formed through close contact with patients; conversely, nurses' knowledge and attitudes will be conveyed to patients. There have been several studies exploring the topic of nurses' knowledge of and attitudes to ECT, but results are contradictory.

OBJECTIVES: To explore nurses' knowledge of and attitude to ECT and to find whether knowledge and experience of ECT correlated with more positive attitudes to the treatment.

METHOD: This was a questionnaire study including 211 registered and student nurses working in a London Mental Health Trust. It included knowledge and attitude scales and questions about experience and demography.

RESULTS: There was a highly significant correlation between knowledge of and more positive attitudes to ECT. The more years in mental health, higher grade, and the greater number of patients undergoing ECT they had had contact with correlated with more knowledge. The number of patients they had had contact with and the closeness of that contact correlated with more positive attitudes. Registered nurses had more knowledge and more positive attitudes than student nurses.

CONCLUSION: The relationship between attitudes and knowledge is complex. However, for nurses to provide appropriate support to patients undergoing ECT, they need to gain knowledge and experience of the therapy early in their careers.

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