Objectives: To assess the effect of closure of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) centers on ECT use. Electroconvulsive therapy remains a recommended and effective treatment for mental disorders. Declining rates of ECT use in the United Kingdom have been observed over the last 20 years with anecdotal observations that use has declined as the result of centralization of provision. In Glasgow, there have been site closures in the north with no such rationing taking place in the south.
Methods: A naturalistic retrospective survey of the number of ECT courses commenced each year in Glasgow, with a comparison made between the north and the south of the city. Data were available from 1996 to 2008.
Results: Our analysis showed no change in the mean number of ECT courses commenced in southern Glasgow (period 1, 42.25; period 2, 41.83; period 3, 31; F = 1.369; P = 0.298). There was a significant reduction in the mean number of ECT treatments commenced in northern Glasgow (period 1, 91.25; period 2, 51; period 3, 33.33; F = 10.06; P = 0.04).
Conclusions: In northern Glasgow, where there have been 2 site closures since 1996, ECT use has declined. This trend was not replicated in the south of the city. This would suggest that the closure of ECT centers does reduce the use of ECT. However, there may be a number of confounding variables that could not be factored into the analysis because of lack of available data.