The Impact of COVID-19 on Electroconvulsive Therapy: A Multisite, Retrospective Study from the Clinical Alliance and Research in Electroconvulsive Therapy and Related Treatments Network

Elaine Kwan, Brandon Le, Colleen K. Loo, Vanessa Dong, Phern Chern Tor, Don Davidson, Titus Mohan, Susan Waite, Grace Branjerdporn, Shanthi Sarma, Salam Hussain, Donel M. Martin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objectives The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has led to reported change in electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) services worldwide. However, minimal data have been published demonstrating tangible changes across multiple ECT centers. This article aimed to examine changes in ECT patients and ECT service delivery during the pandemic. Methods We retrospectively assessed data collected on ECT patients within the Clinical Alliance and Research in Electroconvulsive Therapy and Related Treatments (CARE) Network during a 3-month period starting at the first COVID-19 restrictions in 2020 and compared data with predicted values based on the corresponding 3-month period in 2019. Mixed-effects repeated-measures analyses examined differences in the predicted and actual number of acute ECT courses started and the total number of acute ECT treatments given in 2020. Sociodemographic, clinical, treatment factors, and ECT service delivery factors were compared for 2020 and 2019. Results Four Australian and 1 Singaporean site participated in the study. There were no significant differences between the predicted and actual number of acute ECT courses and total number of acute ECT treatments administered in 2020. During 2020, there were statistically significant increases in the proportion of patients requiring ECT under substitute consent and receiving ECT for urgent reasons compared with 2019. Conclusions This multisite empirical study is among the first that supports anecdotal reports of changes in the triaging and delivery of ECT during COVID-19. Results suggest that ECT was prioritized for the most severely ill patients. Further data assessing the impacts of COVID-19 on ECT are needed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-51
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of ECT
Volume38
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2022

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