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Electroconvulsive Therapy Training and Confidence in Administration: A National Survey of Psychiatric Trainees in Ireland

Akinsola, Oluwatosin MBChB, MRCPsych*; Sundram, Frederick MRCPsych, MD; Bangaru, Raju MRCPsych, MD

doi: 10.1097/YCT.0b013e3181eb309e
Original Studies

Objectives: As the lack of on-site electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) facilities in many psychiatric hospitals in Ireland may impact negatively on ECT training, we conducted a national survey of trainees with the aims of establishing the current standard of ECT training and to assess trainees' confidence in their abilities in ECT administration.

Methods: A national postal survey of 415 trainees was conducted in September 2008 using a self-designed 15-item questionnaire for the purpose of the study, containing no identification data and incorporating relevant questionnaire items from similar published trainee survey. Reminders were distributed to the entire study sample 4 weeks afterward within a sampling time frame of 3 months. Trainee responses were coded and converted to anonymized data, which the lead author held.

Results: The overall response rate was 61%. Ninety-one percent of trainees had worked in ECT centers, of which 36% had given ECT on an occasion without direct consultant supervision. Overall, 12% of trainees had never administered or observed ECT, which includes 2 trainees on the national senior registrar scheme, and 19% of trainees had nil or minimal confidence in their ability to administer ECT.

Conclusions: Our findings indicate deficiencies in training and supervision, which is reflected in the proportion of trainees reporting nil or minimal confidence in their ability to administer ECT. Greater collaboration between training scheme coordinators, clinical tutors, and the College of Psychiatry of Ireland is essential to ensure ongoing monitoring and implementation of standards.

From the *Victorian Institute of Forensic Mental Health, Melbourne, Australia; and †Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Dublin, Ireland.

Received for publication March 23, 2010; accepted May 12, 2010.

Reprints: Oluwatosin Akinsola, MBChB, MRCPsych, Forensicare, Fairfield, Victoria 3078, Melbourne, Australia (e-mail:

The authors have no conflicts of interest.

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.