Pre–electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) evaluation is an essential part of ECT preparation, a standard treatment in the psychiatric field. However, no routine pre-ECT evaluation has been published so far. This preliminary study aimed to explore different practices in pre-ECT evaluation across European countries.
The data were collected as a snowball sample approach using an online survey from September 2019 to April 2020. The final analysis included data from 18 clinics placed in 16 European countries.
Regulations on the pre-ECT evaluation were found in 9 countries. All clinics reported doing complete blood count, serum electrolytes, and renal function analysis as a part of regular laboratory testing, alongside with a cardiovascular assessment. Ten clinics reported using psychiatric scales. Six clinics reported doing a cognitive assessment, of which all had regulations on the pre-ECT evaluation. Not one evaluation had the same sets of procedures and diagnostics.
The differences in assessment approaches mirror high variability of the pre-ECT evaluation practice across Europe. Cognitive assessment and objectification of psychiatric symptoms should be a regular part of the pre-ECT evaluation because of the monitoring of the most common adverse effect and observing the clinical response to ECT. Standardization of the pre-ECT evaluation and ECT in general would remove criticisms and opposition to the treatment, make it based on the best of our knowledge, and provide a method respectful of patients' best interests and rights.