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Eur Psychiatry. 2006 Oct;21(7):463-70. Epub 2005 Jan 27.

Patterns of electroconvulsive therapy use in Spain.

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Hospital Psychiatric Unit, Service of Psychiatry, Consorcio Hospital General Universitario de Valencia, Avda, Tres Cruces 2, 46014 Valencia, Spain.



To describe the utilization, geographical variations and adaptation of ECT in the Spanish context.


A cross-sectional study, involving a questionnaire delivered to all hospitals with a Psychiatry Unit (PU) in Spain included in the National Hospitals Catalogue (N = 233). A descriptive analysis was made of the answers to the different questions, using an adequate denominator in each case: all PUs (n = 233), those units that prescribe and apply ECT (n = 174), or only those that apply the technology (n = 108).


All PUs completed the questionnaire. Fifty-nine units (25.3%) neither prescribed nor applied ECT, while 108 (46.4%) prescribed and applied the technology, and 66 PUs (28.3%) only prescribed ECT. Those units with training responsibilities for psychiatry residents or pregraduate students, and those with a larger number of beds, were more inclined to apply ECT. The estimated ECT applied in the preceding 12 months totaled 2435 with an annual rate per 10,000 inhabitants of 0.61, and a range per Spanish Autonomous Community of 0.28-16.59.


We now know a reliable rate and characteristics of the use of ECT in Spain, and the attitudes and opinion of PUs Spanish psychiatrists about it. We found a very important variability in ECT application rates among Autonomous Communities.

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