To investigate the knowledge of and attitudes toward electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) in 3 samples of medical students from Iraq, Egypt, and the United Kingdom, respectively.
Materials and Methods:
Medical students from Baghdad, Iraq, Cairo, Egypt, and Sheffield, United Kingdom medical schools completed a self-administered questionnaire including item of factual knowledge and of attitudes toward ECT. The Iraqi and Egyptian students were in their final year. The United Kingdom students have just finished their psychiatric placements.
A total of 339 students responded (181 from Iraq, 85 from Egypt, and 73 from the United Kingdom). The theoretical knowledge base of the Iraqi sample was found to be better than that of the other 2 samples. Overall, the knowledge of ECT was not good especially in the Egyptian sample, where nearly two thirds were unable to mention any indication or side effect, and only 3.5% of them had the chance to observe ECT. The United Kingdom sample showed very positive attitudes (no one said that psychiatrists abuse ECT, and only 4% thought that ECT is a cruel treatment), followed by the Iraqi and the Egyptian samples.
Different teaching styles and possibly some cultural factors affect the knowledge base of and the attitudes toward ECT. Finishing a psychiatric placement might have led to the very positive attitudes in the United Kingdom sample. Ensuring that medical students from the other 2 samples should observe ECT might improve their attitudes. A specific lecture about ECT would improve the knowledge of the 3 samples.