Delivery of electroconvulsive therapy in Canada: a first national survey report on devices and technique

J ECT. 2013 Sep;29(3):225-30. doi: 10.1097/YCT.0b013e31827f135b.


Objective: Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is an effective treatment for mood and other psychiatric disorders. Despite widespread use, the specifics of ECT practice in Canada are largely unknown. A nationwide survey designed to document current delivery was therefore conducted.

Method: One hundred seventy-five Canadian ECT delivery sites were identified. A detailed questionnaire (13 pages, 76 questions grouped in 11 subheadings) was developed, translated into French, piloted, and then forwarded to all ECT centers.

Results: Return rate for the full questionnaire was 61%. Wide-ranging information pertaining to ECT was gathered. This article, which addresses the data specifically pertaining to ECT devices, electrical stimulus parameters and electrode placements, showed that many core aspects of ECT practice in Canada are in keeping with current recommendations. The use of old sine wave devices is virtually nonexistent. Electroencephalographic (EEG) monitoring of seizures is widespread.

Conclusions: Specific concerns were identified, including the need for access to back-up devices at all centers, the lack of ECT credentialing requirements by Canadian hospitals, and a striking variation in dosing practices. An audit of Canadian practice and the development of a National Standards Document would be an essential next undertaking.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Algorithms
  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Credentialing
  • Electroconvulsive Therapy / standards
  • Electroconvulsive Therapy / statistics & numerical data*
  • Electrodes
  • Electroencephalography
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / therapy
  • Seizures / physiopathology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires