Knowledge and attitude of patients and their relatives towards electro-convulsive therapy: a study from a tertiary care centre in Northern India

Yuman Kawoos, Zaid Ahmad Wani, Irfan Ahmad Shah, Yasir Hassan Rather, Waris Ahmad Zarger, Rehana Amin


Background: Electro-convulsive therapy (ECT) has been effective in various psychiatric disorders and is life-saving in some conditions. Despite its effectiveness and lack of serious side-effects, its use is restricted due to negative attitude of patients and their relatives towards ECT. The objective of the study was to study the attitude of patients and their attendants towards ECT. Also, we studied their knowledge regarding ECT prior to the administration of ECT.

Methods: A 16 item questionnaire was formulated to be used for assessing the attitude and knowledge about ECT and was administered after translating it into Urdu language for better understanding. Patients planned for ECT were administered the questionnaire after taking consent. A total of 60 patients and 60 attendants were taken up for the study.

Results: About 60-70% of patients gave correct (right) responses to questions like ECT being life-saving procedure, need of investigations before ECT and other questions like question numbers 1,5,6,7,11,14,15. There was little knowledge regarding other areas like use of ECT in pregnant females and elderly (question numbers 2, 4, 10, 12). The patients as well as their attendants did not differ significantly in the responses given to the queries. Maximum number of patients received knowledge regarding ECT from doctors; few had attained it from other sources like internet.

Conclusions: The study is a preliminary one and emphasizes the need for better standardized questionnaire for proper assessment. It also gives us an insight into lack of knowledge among patients and their attendants regarding ECT.


Attitude, Electro-convulsive therapy, Knowledge, Side-effects

Full Text:



Weiner RD. Treatment optimization with ECT. Psycho- pharmacol Bull. 1994;30:313-20.

American Psychiatric Association. The Practice of ECT: Recommendations for Treatment, Training and Privileging. Convulsive Ther. 1990;6(2):85.

Pankratz WJ. Electroconvulsive therapy: the position of the Canadian Psychiatric Association. Can J Psychiat. 1980;25(6):509-14.

Carney S, Geddes J. Electroconvulsive therapy. Br Med J. 2003;326:1343-4.

Malcolm K. Patient’s perceptions and knowledge of electroconvulsive therapy. Psychiat Bull. 1989;13:161-5.

Johnstone L. Adverse psychological effects of ECT. J Mental Health. 1999;8:69-85.

Little JD. ECT in the Asia Pacific region: what do we know? J ECT. 2003;19:93-7.

Chakrabarti S, Grover S, Rajagopal R. Perceptions and awareness of electroconvulsive therapy among patients and their families: a review of the research from developing countries. JECT. 2010;26:317-22.

Taieb O, Flament MF, Corcos M. Electroconvulsive Therapy in adolescents with mood disorder: patients' and parents' attitudes. Psychiatry Res. 2001;104:183-90.

Ramachandra BN, Lalitha G, Janakiramaiah N. Patients' knowledge about ECT. NIMHANS J. 1992;10:27-31.

Arshad M, Arham AZ, Arif M, Bano M, Bashir A, Bokut M, et al. Awareness and perceptions of electroconvulsive therapy among psychiatric patients: a cross-sectional survey from teaching hospitals in Karachi, Pakistan. BMC Psychiat. 2007;7:27-3

Benbow SM. Patients' views on ECT on completion of a course of treatment. Convul Ther. 1988;4:146-52.

Iodice AJ, Dunn AG, Rosenquist P et al. Stability over time of patients' attitudes toward ECT. Psychiatry Res. 2003;117:89-91.

Agarwal AK, Andrade C. Indian psychiatrists' attitudes towards ECT. Indian J Psychiat. 1997;39:54-60.

Chavan BS, Kumar S, Arun P, Kumar S, Bala C, Singh T. ECT: Knowledge and attitude among patient and their relatives. Indian J Psychiat. 2006;48:34.

Salzman C. ECT: Research and professional ambivalence. Am J Psychiat. 1998;115:1-2.

Freeman CPL, Kendell RE. ECT: I Patients' experiences and attitudes. Br J Psychiat. 1980;137:8-16.

Goodman JA, Krahn LE, Smith GE. Patient satisfaction with electroconvulsive therapy. Mayo Clin Proc. 1999;74:967-71.