Despite substantial proof of its efficacy, there has been little systematic research of satisfaction with electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) among patients or their relatives. This study sought to evaluate satisfaction with the treatment among patients who had undergone ECT and their relatives present during treatment.
Of the 110 patients who had received ECT over 2 years, 50 were eventually recruited. Satisfaction with ECT among patients and relatives was evaluated using the Patient Satisfaction Survey, a structured and comprehensive schedule used earlier in a number of similar studies.
Slightly more than half of the patients of this study appeared to be satisfied with ECT, as reflected by overall levels of satisfaction (54%), satisfaction with the results of ECT (54%), satisfaction with the staff administering ECT (58%), and satisfaction with the positive effects of ECT on their symptoms (63%). However, a large number of patients (22%-50%) were unsure of their responses, although clear disapproval of ECT was uncommon. Relatives were significantly more satisfied than were patients on almost every aspect of the treatment. Despite high levels of satisfaction, participants expressed dissatisfaction about the amount of information before ECT, fear of ECT, and about the possibility of persisting cognitive impairment.
Most patients, and particularly their relatives, were satisfied with ECT, but there were several areas of concern including the fear of ECT, lack of information, and the possibility of enduring cognitive problems. This study also underlines the need for a well-validated and reliable method of assessing satisfaction with ECT.