Perceptions of outcome from electroconvulsive therapy by depressed patients and psychiatrists

Henry Brodaty, David Berle, Ian B. Hickie, Cathy Mason

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


OBJECTIVE: To determine (i) patients' expectations before and attitudes after a course of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT); (ii) the concordance between the perceptions of patients and their psychiatrists; and (iii) whether patients and psychiatrists are accurate in predicting a positive outcome with ECT.

METHOD: Eighty-one inpatients (mean 67.2 years, median 70 years) with major depression were assessed before and after receiving a course of ECT. On both occasions, patients were administered the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HRSD) and the Global Assessment of Functioning Scale (GAF). Patients and two research psychiatrists rated their expectancy of treatment outcome before ECT and their impression of outcome after ECT was completed.

RESULTS: Both HRSD and GAF scores improved with treatment. Before treatment, 39.7% of patients believed ECT would improve their condition. Following treatment, 68.8% of patients thought their condition had improved as a result of ECT. There was only slight agreement between patients' and psychiatrists' expectations before and ratings of efficacy after treatment. The psychiatrists', but not the patients', pretreatment expectations of ECT efficacy were significantly associated with improvement in depression as measured by the effect size change in HRSD score from pre- to post-ECT.

CONCLUSIONS: Patients were poor judges of ECT outcome and, in this sample, less positive than previous reports had suggested. Psychiatrists' expectations however, were generally accurate indicating good clinical selection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)196-9
Number of pages4
JournalAustralian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Aged
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Attitude to Health
  • Depressive Disorder, Major
  • Electroconvulsive Therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Psychiatry
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors
  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


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