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Nervenarzt. 1998 Jan;69(1):15-26.

[Electroconvulsive therapy in psychiatric clinics in Germany in 1995].

[Article in German]

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Forschungsstelle für Psychiatrische Soziologie, Psychiatrische Klinik, Heinrich-Heine-Universität, Rheinische Kliniken Düsseldorf.


A total of 451 German psychiatric hospitals were asked in 1995 about their use of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). As ECT nowadays is well accepted as a therapeutic tool, we wanted to compare our data with data collected in former inquiries in 1977 and 1985 and to acquire information from the new German States. Since 1977, the use of ECT has evidently increased. The psychiatric hospitals that often use ECT are for scattered throughout the whole country. ECT is mainly indicated for febrile catatonia/febrile stupor and depressive stupor, not for schizophrenia. ECT is applied especially when depressive patients are resistant or intolerant of psychopharmacotherapy. The preparation and application correspond to the standards. One focus in the present study was the attitudes of the managing directors towards ECT. Data were collected by open questionnaires. When these data were compared with data from a standardized inquiry of 1985, a similar trend was found regarding positive statements about ECT. Statements are emphasized even more when using open questionnaires. If there is a strong indication for ECT, the basic attitudes of the managing directors toward ECT are very positive. However, its application is in fact much more influenced by social factors than by indication because of negative attitudes by colleagues and nursing staff and political and stereotypic thinking of the general population.

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