Does Electroconvulsive Therapy for Patients with Mood Disorders Extend Hospital Length of Stays and Increase Inpatient Costs?

Edeanya Agbese, Douglas L. Leslie, Djibril M. Ba, Robert Rosenheck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Although randomized trials have shown that electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is an effective and underused treatment for mood disorders, its impact on inpatient length of stay (LOS) and hospital costs are not fully understood. We analyzed private insurance claims of patients hospitalized for mood disorders who had continuous insurance for three months prior to an index hospitalization and six months after discharge (N = 24,249). Propensity score weighted linear models were used to examine the association of any ECT use, the number of ECT treatments, and time to first ECT treatment, with LOS and hospital costs adjusting for potential confounders. Three months prior to the index hospitalization, patients who subsequently received ECT had more than double the total healthcare costs and bed days ($12,669 vs. $6,333 and 4.5 vs. 0.92 days, p <.001) of the other group. During their index admission, patients receiving ECT had longer LOS (16.1 vs. 5.8 days, p <.001) and three times greater hospital costs ($28,607 vs. $8,708, p <.001). Analyses adjusted for other group differences showed a dose–response relationship between the number of ECT treatments and LOS and hospital costs. Receipt of ECT was associated with increased LOS by 4 to 29 days depending on the number of ECT treatments and increasing total hospital costs from $5,767 to $52,717. Receipt of any ECT and the number of treatments during hospitalization were associated with markedly increased LOS, hospital admission costs, and post-discharge costs. Cost-effectiveness of ECT may be enhanced by shifting treatments to outpatient settings when possible.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)71-78
Number of pages8
JournalAdministration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Phychiatric Mental Health
  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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