The controversy that exists over the relevance of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) in contemporary psychiatric care often excludes the opinion of patients. Optimizing ECT service delivery must include the perspectives and input of service users. In Nigeria, the opinions of patients have not been explored.
To evaluate the perspective of patients who have previously received ECT toward the process of delivery and the benefits and adverse effects of unmodified ECT.
Ninety consecutive consenting stable outpatients who had received unmodified ECT between 6 and 12 months from the time of study were surveyed in a cross-sectional study design over a 3-month period using a semistructured Likert-type questionnaire at a referral psychiatric hospital in Nigeria.
Most (75.5%) of the patients did not find the procedure stressful and reported ECT being beneficial (82.2%). Most complained of deficiency in the process of ECT service delivery and reported not been adequately informed before receiving ECT (88.9%). A third reported experiencing memory impairment after ECT. Headaches and muscle pains were reported in 8.9% and 17.8% of patients, respectively. Patients who experienced headaches after ECT were more likely to perceive ECT as stressful (P < 0.005), whereas those who experienced memory impairment were less likely to receive ECT again if indicated (P < 0.001).
Unmodified ECT is fairly well accepted among patients, although a majority complained of deficiencies in information provided about and consent toward the procedure. Improving ECT service delivery and addressing adverse effects may improve treatment acceptability.