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Electroconvulsive Therapy in China (II): Research on the Technical Parameters and Mechanism of Action

Ren, Yan-ping MD, PhD*†; Jiang, Wei MD; Cotes, Robert O. MD§; Tang, Yi-lang MD, PhD†§; Ma, Xin MD, PhD*†; McDonald, William M. MD§

doi: 10.1097/YCT.0b013e3182617ef9

Objective This article summarizes the publications in the Chinese scientific literature related to the technical parameters and mechanism of action associated with electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).

Methods The researchers conducted a comprehensive search of the 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. Most studies found that electrode placement, anesthesia, and muscle relaxants are important clinical factors associated with both clinical efficacy and adverse effects. Chinese researchers have reported new leads regarding the possible mechanism of ECT.

Conclusion The Chinese medical literature provides an important database that will help advance ECT research in both China and the international community.

From the *Department of Research and Education, Capital Medical University, †Center for Electrophysiological Testing and Treatment, and ‡Center for Modified Electroconvulsive Therapy, Beijing Anding Hospital, Beijing, China and §Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta GA.

Received for publication July 29, 2011; accepted March 20, 2012.

Reprints: Xin Ma, MD, PhD, Beijing Anding Hospital, Capital Medical University, Beijing, China 100088 (e-mail:; or Yi-lang Tang, MD, PhD, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA 30322 (e-mail:

This study was supported in part by a grant from Beijing Natural Science Foundation (No. 7113158 to Y-PR) and the grant of National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 81071102 to XM).

Dr McDonald receives funding and support for research from Cervel Neurotech for a multicenter trial investigating a transcranial magnetic stimulator; Stanley Foundation and Soterix for a multicenter trial investigating a transcranial direct current stimulator; and Oxford University Press to edit a book on transcranial magnetic stimulation. Dr McDonald is a section editor for the American Psychiatric Association Press’s edition of the The Practice of Electroconvulsive Therapy Recommendations for Treatment, Training, and Privileging, Third Edition. Other authors have no conflicts of interest or financial disclosures to report.

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.