Objectives: Minimal research has been done on sociodemographic differences in utilization of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) for refractory depression, especially among Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
Methods: This study examined sociodemographic and diagnostic variables using retrospective data from Hawaii, an island state with predominantly Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Retrospective data were obtained from an inpatient and outpatient database of ECT patients from 2008 to 2010 at a tertiary care community hospital on O’ahu, Hawaii.
Results: There was a significant increase in overall ECT utilization from 2008 to 2009, with utilization remaining stable from 2009 to 2010. European Americans (41%) and Japanese Americans (29%) have relatively higher rates of receiving ECT, and Filipino Americans and Native Hawaiians have relatively lower rates in comparison with their population demographics. Japanese Americans received significantly more ECT procedures than European Americans.
Conclusions: Electroconvulsive therapy is underutilized by certain sociodemographic groups that may benefit most from the treatment. There are significant differences in ECT usage based on ethnicity. Such differences may be related to help-seeking behavior, economic differences, and/or attitudes regarding mental illness. Further research is needed to elucidate the reasons for differences in utilization.