Objectives: The use of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) varies across countries. The aim of this study was to describe and explore the use of ECT in Sweden in 2013.
Methods: The Swedish mandatory patient register of the National Board of Health and Welfare includes information on diagnoses and treatments, including ECT. All 56 hospitals that provide ECT in Sweden also report to the nonmandatory national quality register for ECT, which contains information on patient and treatment characteristics. In this study, we combined data from both registers. In addition, all hospitals responded to a survey concerning equipment and organization of ECT.
Results: We identified 3972 unique patients who received ECT in Sweden in 2013. This translates into 41 ECT-treated individuals per 100,000 inhabitants. Of these patients, 85% opted to participate in the quality register. The median age was 55 years (range, 15-94 years), and 63% were women. The indication was depression in 78% of the treatment series. Of 4 711 hospitalized patients with severe depression, 38% received ECT. The median number of treatments per index series was 7. Unilateral treatment was used in 86% of the series.
Conclusions: In Sweden, ECT is used at a relatively high rate as compared with other western countries, and the rate was unchanged from the last survey in 1975. However, there is room for improvement in the specificity of use and availability of ECT for disorders where ECT is considered a first-line treatment.