Psychological Medicine

Brief Communication

Electro-convulsive therapy practices in the community

J.  PRUDIC  c1 a1, M.  OLFSON  a1 and H. A.  SACKEIM  a1
a1 From the Departments of Biological Psychiatry and Clinical and Genetic Epidemiology, New York State Psychiatric Institute and the Departments of Psychiatry and Radiology, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, New York, NY, USA


Background. Controlled studies have demonstrated that variations in electro-convulsive therapy (ECT) technique impacts on efficacy and cognitive side effects. However, there is little information on the extent of variation in how ECT is practiced in community settings in the United States.

Methods. A survey of practice patterns was conducted at ECT facilities in the greater New York City metropolitan area.

Results. The 59 facilities varied considerably in many aspects of ECT practice, often clearly departing from the standards in the field. The more intensive the form of ECT used at facilities, the less likely was cognitive status assessed following the treatment course.

Conclusion. There is marked variability in the nature of ECT practices in community settings. The extent to which this variability impacts on the benefits and risks of ECT needs to be examined.

c1 Address for correspondence: Dr Joan Prudic, Department of Biological Psychiatry, Unit 126, New York State Psychiatric Institute, 1051 Riverside Drive, New York, NY 10032, USA.