Electroconvulsive therapy in palliative care

Am J Hosp Palliat Care. 2011 Aug;28(5):375-7. doi: 10.1177/1049909110390203. Epub 2010 Nov 17.


Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is a highly effective psychiatric treatment for states of depression, mania, psychosis, or behavioral agitation in dementia. As it does involve intravenous access, general anesthesia, and significant side effects, it may be viewed as too ''invasive'' for patients on palliative care measures. However, we describe several patients treated on our busy ECT service at a tertiary hospital, who were receiving palliative care who, on balance, were felt to have better quality of life with continued use of ECT. We conclude that ECT should not be automatically discarded in patients receiving palliative care and offer some guidelines for its use in this population.

MeSH terms

  • Electroconvulsive Therapy / methods*
  • Humans
  • Pain, Intractable / therapy*
  • Palliative Care / methods*
  • Quality of Health Care
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Treatment Outcome