A Randomized Controlled Trial of Video Psychoeducation for Electroconvulsive Therapy in the United States

Psychiatr Serv. 2020 Jun 1;71(6):562-569. doi: 10.1176/appi.ps.201900448. Epub 2020 Mar 10.


Objective: Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is a highly effective psychiatric treatment that remains largely underutilized. Patient psychoeducation about ECT may improve uptake of this treatment.

Methods: This randomized controlled trial compared two forms of psychoeducation about ECT: video psychoeducation and an informational brochure. In 2019, a national sample of 556 U.S. adults who screened positive for depression were recruited and randomly assigned to receive one of these educational interventions online. Participant perceptions, knowledge, and willingness to receive ECT were assessed before and after psychoeducation.

Results: Both the video psychoeducation and brochure groups showed significantly more positive perceptions and knowledge about ECT following the intervention, with no significant differences between groups. The proportion of participants who reported being willing to receive ECT increased significantly after receipt of psychoeducation (from 31% to 63% in the video psychoeducation group and from 29% to 56% in the brochure group). Female gender, severity of depression, and comorbid mental and substance use disorders were associated with positive changes in ECT perceptions and increased willingness to receive ECT.

Conclusions: These findings suggest brief psychoeducation for ECT is needed and may improve acceptance of this robust treatment.

Keywords: Affective disorders; Depression; ECT; Health Literacy; Mental Health; Psychoeducation.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Depression / therapy*
  • Electroconvulsive Therapy / methods*
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pamphlets
  • Patient Education as Topic / methods*
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • United States
  • Video Recording