Objective: Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) was first introduced in China in the early 1950s and has evolved into a significant psychiatric treatment. Research from Chinese psychiatrists provides important clinical data for ECT practitioners. However, most of the research has only been published in Chinese language journals. This article summarizes data from publications in the Chinese scientific community related to the clinical practice of ECT and research on efficacy in the treatment of psychiatric disorders.
Methods: Descriptive study primarily based on Chinese language literature identified from searches of the China National Knowledge Infrastructure and the Medline databases (1979–2012).
Results: More than 900 journal papers on ECT have been published in the Chinese language between 1979 and 2012. Currently, modified ECT has replaced unmodified ECT, and treatments were performed both in inpatient and outpatient settings. Electroconvulsive therapy is primarily used for the treatment of schizophrenia and mood disorders and has been shown to be very effective in both. The primary use of ECT in China is in the treatment of schizophrenia. The Chinese literature provides a rich database on the efficacy of modified and unmodified ECT, with and without adjunctive antipsychotics, in the treatment of schizophrenia.
Conclusion: The Chinese medical literature provides an important database that will help advance the practice of ECT in both China and the international community.