Objective: To compare electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) practice between London in the United Kingdom and Bengaluru in India.
Methods: A retrospective case note study was conducted to compare patterns of referrals for ECT in university teaching hospitals in London (n = 46) and Bengaluru (n = 345) during a 1-year period. Further comparison of ECT practice was made for a consecutive series of depressed patients between London (n = 104) and Bengaluru (n = 125).
Results: The rates of ECT referral were 0.9% of total annual admissions at the London site and 8.2% at the Bengaluru site. At the Bengaluru site, a higher proportion of patients were referred for ECT with a diagnosis of schizophrenia (P < 0.0001). Compared to the Bengaluru sample, depressed patients treated with ECT in London (n = 104) were older with more treatment resistance (P < 0.0001), had longer inpatient stays, and were less responsive to ECT.
Conclusions: The practice of ECT differed substantially between the London and Bengaluru sites. The relatively limited use of ECT in London reflects local treatment guidelines and may reflect the stigma associated with ECT. Electroconvulsive therapy is more widely used in Bengaluru with good outcomes. Further cross-cultural research is required to study the reasons for such contrasting practices and what constitutes the optimal practice of ECT for health systems in different countries.