Receipt of Electroconvulsive Therapy in Outpatient Settings in a National Sample of Privately Insured Patients with Mood Disorders

Edeanya Agbese, Douglas L. Leslie, Robert Rosenheck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), an effective treatment for bipolar and major depressive disorder, is underused. Little information is available on use of ECT in potentially less costly outpatient settings, possibly reducing cost barriers. Methods Insurance claims from the 2008 to 2017 MarketScan Commercial Database for patients diagnosed with mood disorders were used to compare 4 groups of ECT users in each year: Those receiving (1) exclusively outpatient ECT, (2) first inpatient and subsequently outpatient, (3) outpatient and subsequently inpatient, and (4) exclusively inpatient ECT. Groups were compared on the proportion receiving ECT in each group over time as well as on the total numbers of treatments received along with group differences in sociodemographic and diagnostic characteristics and health care costs. Results Among 2.9 million patients diagnosed with mood disorders, the proportion who received ECT (n = 8859) was small (0.30%) and declined over the decade to 0.17%. Among those who received ECT, most did so exclusively as outpatients (52.3%), the group with fewest comorbidities and lowest costs. This proportion increased by 19.7% over the decade, whereas the proportion receiving ECT exclusively in an inpatient setting (12.1%) fell by 30.6%. The total number of treatments per patient averaged 11.7 per year and increased by 28.0% over the decade, with outpatients decreasing to slightly less than average. Health care costs were greatest for those who started ECT as inpatients. Conclusions Although the proportion of privately insured patients receiving ECT in outpatient settings has increased, reducing cost barriers, the use of ECT continued to be extremely limited and declining.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)31-36
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of ECT
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neuroscience (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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