The aim of the study was to explore patient perception and perceived benefit of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) by assessing the real-world experience of adult patients who received ECT, focusing on clinical outcomes and patient satisfaction.
This retrospective study analyzed patient self-report of depressive symptoms (Patient Health Questionnaire), perception of physical and cognitive ECT adverse effects (ECT Outcomes Survey) and satisfaction with treatment (Patient Satisfaction Survey). Symptoms and adverse effects were measured at both intake and final ECT session for comparison over time. Data were collected from 1089 adult patients with depression, bipolar disorder, or schizoaffective disorder in 23 psychiatric facilities in the United States and its territories from 2014 to 2015.
On average, patient scores reflect satisfaction with treatment and reduction in depressive symptoms and adverse effects across the course of ECT treatment. Patients reported a decrease in depression, with an average Patient Health Questionnaire change of 13.2 from intake to final ECT session (P < 0.001). Furthermore, 85.5% of patients indicated on the Patient Satisfaction Survey that they benefited or improved as a result of their ECT. Subsequent analyses revealed alleviation of depressive symptoms and ability to return to social, and work life tasks are significant contributors to satisfaction with treatment, whereas adverse effects including memory problems have less influence on satisfaction.
Patients tend to perceive ECT as a safe and beneficial treatment option for severe mood disorders, even when considering adverse effects. This study reinforces the value of standardized data collection and outcomes measures to better monitor patient response to treatment, refine the clinical practice of ECT, and provide data to support patient education.