Objectives: The aim of the study was to describe the contemporary practice of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) in Norway.
Methods: A 42- item questionnaire on the practice of ECT was sent to all the 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 adolescents units. Trainee psychiatrists mostly administered ECT, with or without supervision, but underwent a training program before administering ECT. Written informed consent was used in 50% of institutions providing ECT. Right unilateral electrode placement was preferred but with variations in dosage strategies. The practice in most of the departments was to discontinue some classes of psychotropics before ECT, mostly benzodiazepines and anticonvulsants. Antidepressants and antipsychotics were most often continued. Continuation/maintenance and ambulatory ECT were used. Most patients benefited from ECT. Headache and memory impairment were frequent but seldom were serious adverse effects.
Conclusions: The administration of ECT in Norway in 2004 was mostly in accordance with international guidelines. All institutions used modified ECT and brief pulse machines, and unilateral ECT was the preferred electrode placement. National guidelines should be developed, as there were great variations in practice among the hospitals.