Identifying recipients of electroconvulsive therapy: Data from privately insured americans

Samuel T. Wilkinson, Edeanya Agbese, Douglas L. Leslie, Robert A. Rosenheck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations


Objective: Despite the effectiveness of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), limited epidemiologic research has been conducted to identify rates of ECT use and characteristics of patients who receive ECT. Sociodemographic and clinical characteristics associated with ECT use were examined among patients with mood disorders in the MarketScan commercial insurance claims database. Methods: Among individuals with major depressive disorder or bipolar disorder, sociodemographic and clinical characteristics of those who received ECT and those who did not were compared by using bivariate effect size comparisons and multivariate logistic regression. Results: Among unique individuals in the 2014 MarketScan database (N=47,258,528), the ECT utilization rate was 5.56 ECT patients per 100,000 in the population. Of the 969,277 patients with a mood disorder, 2,471 (.25%) received ECT. Those who received ECT had substantially higher rates of additional comorbid psychiatric disorders (risk ratio [RR]= 5.70 for any additional psychiatric disorder), numbers of prescription fills for any psychotropic medication (Cohen's d=.77), rates of any substance use disorder (RR=1.97), and total outpatient psychotherapy visits (Cohen's d=.49). The proportion of patients with a mood disorder who received ECT in the West (.19%) was substantially lower than in other U.S. regions (.28%). This difference was almost entirely accounted for by one western state comprising 59.1% of patients in that region. Conclusions: Use of ECT is exceptionally uncommon and limited to patients with extensive multimorbidity and high levels of service use. ECT utilization is most limited in areas of the country where regulatory restrictions are greatest.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)542-548
Number of pages7
JournalPsychiatric Services
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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