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Changes in the Practice of Electroconvulsive Therapy in Poland: A Nationwide Survey Comparing Data Between 2005 and 2020

Authors Antosik-Wójcińska AZ, Dominiak M, Mierzejewski P, Jażdżyk P, Gazdag G, Takacs R, Wichniak A

Received 7 December 2020

Accepted for publication 14 January 2021

Published 22 February 2021 Volume 2021:17 Pages 605—612


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Roger Pinder

Anna Z Antosik-Wójcińska,1,2 Monika Dominiak,2,3 Paweł Mierzejewski,2,3 Piotr Jażdżyk,4,5 Gabor Gazdag,6,7 Rozalia Takacs,8,9 Adam Wichniak2,10

1Department of Psychiatry, Medical University of Warsaw, Warsaw, Poland; 2Section of Biological Psychiatry of the Polish Psychiatric Association, Institute of Psychiatry and Neurology, Warsaw, Poland; 3Department of Pharmacology, Institute of Psychiatry and Neurology, Warsaw, Poland; 4Institute of Psychiatry and Neurology, Warsaw, Poland; 5Chair and Department of Experimental and Clinical Physiology, Laboratory of Centre for Preclinical Research, Medical University of Warsaw, Warsaw, Poland; 6Department of Psychiatry and Psychiatric Rehabilitation, Jahn Ferenc South Pest Hospital, Budapest, Hungary; 7Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Faculty of Medicine, Semmelweis University, Budapest, Hungary; 8Psychiatric Outpatient Service, Tóth Ilona Medical Service, Budapest, Hungary; 9School of Doctoral Studies, Semmelweis University, Budapest, Hungary; 10Third Department of Psychiatry, Institute of Psychiatry and Neurology, Warsaw, Poland

Correspondence: Monika Dominiak
Department of Pharmacology, Institute of Psychiatry and Neurology, ul. Sobieskiego 9, Warsaw, PL-02957, Poland
Tel/Fax +48 22 8427644

Background: The use and the characteristics of the practice of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) in Poland have not been evaluated since 2005, when a nationwide survey revealed its rare utilization (0.11 patients/10,000 inhabitants/year). The aims of this study were to determine the current use of ECT and to compare the findings with those of the previous survey.
Methods: Two questionnaires were sent to all 48 inpatient psychiatric centers in Poland. The first one - to units providing ECT to explore its practice, and the second - to units not performing ECT to explore the reasons for not using this treatment.
Results: Nineteen (39.6%) of all psychiatric inpatient centers confirmed the use of ECT. The utilization rate was 0.13 patients/10,000 inhabitants. Similar to the findings from 2005, the main indications were affective disorders, and bitemporal electrode placement was the dominant method used for the delivery of ECT. Age-based and titration-based methods were applied exclusively in 50% and 25% of the centers, respectively (compared with 15% and 35% in 2005, respectively), while both methods were used in the remaining 25%. Improvements in safety were reflected by the use of comprehensive pre-ECT evaluation and treatment monitoring. None of the centers used sine-wave devices; this contrasts with their use by 29% of the centers in 2005. The main reasons for not using ECT were insufficient funding and a lack of experienced staff.
Conclusion: The frequency of ECT use in Poland remains very low. In view of the improvement in the quality of health services in the past decade, such a markedly rare use of an effective treatment was unexpected. There is an urgent need of education to create more positive attitude towards ECT among health professionals and among public, and to increase the training of mental health professionals in ECT.

Keywords: electroconvulsive therapy, survey, ECT utilization rate, ECT in Poland, ECT in central and eastern Europe

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