Despite the wide consensus over the safety and efficacy of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), it still faces negative publicity and unfavorable attitudes of patients and families. Little is known about how the experience with ECT affects the patients' and their families' attitude toward it. The aim of this study was to examine a sample of Iranian patients and their families regarding their experience with ECT and to compare their knowledge and attitude toward ECT before and after this experience and their satisfaction with it. We surveyed 22 patients with major depressive disorder about to undergo ECT and 1 family member of each patient for their knowledge and attitude toward ECT and then surveyed them again after the trial of ECT to compare those variables while assessing their experience and satisfaction with ECT. Patients were rated using the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale and Mini-Mental Status Examination before and after the treatment. We found that, before ECT, family members had a more favorable attitude toward ECT than patients, but after ECT, the patients' attitude changed more positively compared with their families. Both patients and their families had a poor knowledge of ECT before the ECT trial, but their total knowledge increased afterward, although not in the areas of indications and therapeutic effects. The majority of patients and their families found ECT to be beneficial and were satisfied with it. Satisfaction with ECT was independent of treatment outcome. There was a high rate of perceived coercion to consent to ECT. Attention should be paid toward educating patients and their families about the ECT process, indications, risks, safety, and effects as well as informing them about their freedom of choice and right to refuse.
From the *Behavioral Sciences Research Center, Departments of †Psychiatry, and ‡Statistics and Epidemiology, Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, Isfahan, Iran.
Received for publication March 19, 2008; accepted May 19, 2008.
Reprints: Majid Barekatain, MD, Behavioral Sciences Research Center, Noor University Hospital, PO Box 81465-993, Ostandari St, Isfahan, Iran (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).