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Electroconvulsive Therapy in Norway: Rates of Use, Clinical Characteristics, Diagnoses, and Attitude

Schweder, Lindy Jarosch-von MD*†; Lydersen, Stian PhD; Wahlund, Björn PhD§; Bergsholm, Per PhD; Linaker, Olav M. PhD*†

doi: 10.1097/YCT.0b013e318208e24b
Original Studies

Objectives: The aim of the study was to describe the rate of use and demographic distribution of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) in Norway in 2004, as well as the attitudes among Norwegian psychiatrists about ECT.

Methods: A 42-item questionnaire on the practice of ECT was sent to 125 Norwegian psychiatric hospitals, district psychiatric centers, and child and adolescent psychiatric units in 2004.

Results: A total of 67 (54%) psychiatric units responded, including 26 (67%) of 39 psychiatric hospitals, 32 (46%) of 69 district psychiatric centers, and 9 (53%) of 17 child and adolescent units. There were 672 patients who received ECT during 2004, which gives a yearly incidence of 2.4 of 10,000 inhabitants. A total of 5.3% of all inpatients received ECT.

The rate of ECT use varied from 1.83 to 3.44 per 10,000 inhabitants per year between the different health regions.

Of the 672 patients, 394 reported their sex (59%), of which 135 were men and 259 were women (male-female ratio, 1:2). The most common diagnosis treated with ECT was depression, followed by bipolar disorder and schizoaffective disorder.

The responders expressed generally positive attitudes toward ECT. Almost all considered ECT important, that hospitals should offer ECT, and that there are solid indications for such treatment. Most of the responders expressed concern about the underuse of ECT.

Conclusions: Electroconvulsive therapy is widely available in Norway but its use is unevenly distributed between health regions. The attitudes toward ECT are generally positive among psychiatrists.

From the *Department of Neuroscience, Faculty of Medicine, NTNU; †Division of Psychiatry, Department of Research and Development, St. Olav’s University Hospital; ‡Unit for Applied Clinical Research, Department of Cancer Research and Molecular Medicine, NTNU, Trondheim, Norway; §Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Division of Psychiatry, Karolinska Institute, Karolinska University Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden and Department of Energy and Engineering,Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala, Sweden and ∥Department of Psychiatry, Førde Central Hospital and Department of Clinical Medicine, Section for Psychiatry, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway.

Received for publication July 1, 2010; accepted November 28, 2010.

Reprints: Lindy Jarosch-von Schweder, MD, Department of Neuroscience, Faculty of Medicine and St. Olav’s University Hospital, Division of Psychiatry, Department of Research and Development, N-7441 Trondheim, Norway (e-mail: lindy.jarosch@ntnu.no).

The authors have no conflict of interest to declare.

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.