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Questionnaire Study About the Practice of Electroconvulsive Therapy in Norway

Schweder, Lindy Jarosch-von MD*†; Wahlund, Björn PhD; Bergsholm, Per PhD§; Linaker, Olav M. PhD*†

doi: 10.1097/YCT.0b013e31821ff3bd
Original Studies

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.

From the *Department of Neuroscience, Faculty of Medicine, and †Division of Psychiatry, Department of Research and Development, St Olav’s University Hospital, Trondheim, Norway; ‡Division of Psychiatry, Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Karolinska Institute, Karolinska University Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden; and Department of Energy and Engineering, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala, Sweden; and §Department of Psychiatry, Førde, and Section for Psychiatry, Department of Clinical Medicine, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway.

Received for publication July 1, 2010; accepted April 15, 2011.

Reprints: Lindy Jarosch-von Schweder, MD, Department of Neuroscience, Faculty of Medicine, and Division of Psychiatry, Department of Research and Development, St Olav’s University Hospital, N-7441 Trondheim, Norway (e-mail:

The authors have no conflict of interest to declare.

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.