Several studies in the United Kingdom have highlighted the lack of knowledge that patients show about electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), both before treatment starts (Malcolm, 1989) and after it is completed (Freeman & Kendell, 1980; Hughes et al, 1981), with only 10 to 15% of patients having a full understanding of the treatment. In an American study (Baxter et al, 1986) patients seemed slightly better informed; this might be because they were given written information. However, subjects who watched a videotape of someone having the treatment did not score higher on a knowledge questionnaire than a control group and the authors postulated a ‘ceiling effect’. Bird (1979) demonstrated that access to media coverage about ECT improved patients' knowledge without increasing anxiety about the treatment.
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