Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Declining access to electroconvulsive therapy: A clinical choice or an economic one?

Date:
January 10, 2013
Source:
Elsevier
Summary:
Horrific images from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest notwithstanding, modern electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) remains one of the safest and most effective antidepressant treatments, particularly for patients who do not tolerate antidepressant medications or depression symptoms that have failed to respond to antidepressant medications. A new study suggests that reductions in ECT treatment have an economic basis. From 1993 to 2009, there was a progressive decline in the number of hospitals offering ECT treatment, resulting in an approximately 43 percent drop in the number of psychiatric inpatients receiving ECT.

Horrific images from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest notwithstanding, modern electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) remains one of the safest and most effective antidepressant treatments, particularly for patients who do not tolerate antidepressant medications or depression symptoms that have failed to respond to antidepressant medications.

Related Articles


Since its introduction in the 1930s, ECT has evolved into a more refined, but more expensive and extensively regulated clinical procedure. Each treatment involves the assembly of a multidisciplinary clinical team and the use of a highly specialized device to deliver brief pulses of low dose electric currents to the brain. ECT is performed while the patient is under general anesthesia and, depending upon each individual's response, is usually administered 2-3 times a week for 6-12 sessions.

A new study in Biological Psychiatry suggests that reductions in ECT treatment have an economic basis. From 1993 to 2009, there was a progressive decline in the number of hospitals offering ECT treatment, resulting in an approximately 43% drop in the number of psychiatric inpatients receiving ECT.

Using diagnostic and discharge codes from survey data compiled annually from US hospitals, researchers calculated the annual number of inpatient stays involving ECT and the annual number of hospitals performing the procedure.

Lead author Dr. Brady Case, from Bradley Hospital and Brown University, said, "Our findings document a clear decline in the capacity of US general hospitals -- which provide the majority of inpatient mental health care in this country -- to deliver an important treatment for some of their most seriously ill patients. Most Americans admitted to general hospitals for severe recurrent major depression are now being treated in facilities which do not conduct ECT."

This is the consequence of an approximately 15 year trend in which psychiatric units appear to be discontinuing use of the procedure. The percentage of hospitals with psychiatric units which conduct ECT dropped from about 55% in 1993 to 35% in 2009, which has led to large reductions in the number of inpatients receiving ECT.

Analyses of treatment for inpatients with severe, recurrent depression indicate the changes have equally affected inpatients with indications like psychotic depression and with relative medical contraindications, suggesting declines have been clinically indiscriminate. By contrast, non-clinical patient factors like residence in a poor neighborhood and lack of private insurance have remained important predictors of whether patients' treating hospitals conduct ECT, raising the concern of systemic barriers to ECT for the disadvantaged.

Where hospitals have continued to conduct the procedure, use has remained stable, indicating divergence in the care of patients treated in the large academic facilities most likely to conduct ECT and those treated elsewhere.

"Psychiatry has taken a step backward. The suffering and disability associated with antidepressant-resistant depression constitute a profound burden on the patient, their family, and society. ECT remains the gold standard treatment for treatment-resistant depression," commented Dr. John Krystal, Editor of Biological Psychiatry. "We must insure that patients with the greatest need for definitive treatment have access to this type of care. ECT may be one of the oldest treatments for depression, but its role in treatment has been given new life in light of a generation of research that has outlined molecular signatures of ECT's antidepressant efficacy."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Elsevier. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Brady G. Case, David N. Bertollo, Eugene M. Laska, Lawrence H. Price, Carole E. Siegel, Mark Olfson, Steven C. Marcus. Declining Use of Electroconvulsive Therapy in United States General Hospitals. Biological Psychiatry, 2013; 73 (2): 119 DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2012.09.005

Cite This Page:

Elsevier. "Declining access to electroconvulsive therapy: A clinical choice or an economic one?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 January 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130110075432.htm>.
Elsevier. (2013, January 10). Declining access to electroconvulsive therapy: A clinical choice or an economic one?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130110075432.htm
Elsevier. "Declining access to electroconvulsive therapy: A clinical choice or an economic one?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130110075432.htm (accessed December 19, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Friday, December 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) A double-amputee makes history by becoming the first person to wear and operate two prosthetic arms using only his mind. Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Prenatal Exposure To Pollution Might Increase Autism Risk

Prenatal Exposure To Pollution Might Increase Autism Risk

Newsy (Dec. 18, 2014) Harvard researchers found children whose mothers were exposed to high pollution levels in the third trimester were twice as likely to develop autism. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Yoga Could Be As Beneficial For The Heart As Walking, Biking

Yoga Could Be As Beneficial For The Heart As Walking, Biking

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) Yoga can help your weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and heart just as much as biking and walking does, a new study suggests. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins