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J Affect Disord. 2000 Apr;58(1):75-8.

Variation in rates of electroconvulsive therapy use among consultant teams in Edinburgh (1993-1996).

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  • 1Andrew Duncan Clinic, Royal Edinburgh Hospital, Edinburgh, UK.



Critics of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) have expressed concern about variations in ECT use among consultant teams within the same hospital. The aim was to establish whether or not there was a significant variation in rates of ECT use among consultant teams in the same hospital when in-patient workload was taken into account.


A computerised database was used to calculate annual and aggregate rates of ECT use by consultant team, expressed as the number of individual in-patients treated per 100 in-patients discharged between 1993 and 1996.


The variation in aggregate rates of ECT use varied approximately 18-fold among the 11 general adult psychiatric teams (P<0.001), and twofold among the three sector old-age psychiatric teams (P<0.05).


Substantial variation in the rates of ECT use was confirmed, but only among general adult psychiatric teams.


The extent to which findings from one teaching hospital can be generalised was unknown. Possible explanations of the variations were not assessed.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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