Accessibility to Electroconvulsive Therapy in Hungary

G. Gazdag, Márton Asztalos, Gábor Ungvari S

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


INTRODUCTION: In spite of its efficacy, use of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) has been declined in Hungary over the past decade. This survey explores the circumstances that have obstructed the accessibility to ECT in Hungary. METHODS: This study was part of a comprehensive survey on the use of ECT in which two semi-structured questionnaires with 25 and 6 questions were sent out to all psychiatric departments in Hungary. The second questionnaire was targeted those departments that did not perform ECT in 2014. Questions were asked about the reasons for not using ECT and the available treatment strategies for patients who needed ECT. RESULTS: Thirty-one of the 58 Hungarian psychiatric departments did not offer ECT in 2014. Twelve chiefs of service asserted that no patient needed ECT in that year. Due to unavailability of ECT, patients were transferred to other departments for ECT in further 12 departments. Finally, in 7 departments, patients who would have needed ECT were treated with pharmacotherapy instead of transferring them to ECT centers. As for the reasons for the lack of access to ECT, 17 departments had no ECT machine, 12 departments did not have access to anesthesiologists, 6 departments had no budget for ECT, and in 5 departments staff with expertise to deliver ECT was not available. CONCLUSION: The rate of ECT use in Hungarian psychiatric departments decreased by 20 percent between 2002 and 2014. The most important reasons for this decline were lack of the modern ECT devices or financial sources to buy a modern ECT machine. Further reasons for not using ECT were the availability of anesthesiologists or the lack of finances to employ them. The lack of experience in administering ECT was another reason for not utilizing ECT. These difficulties could be solved with the centralization of ECT provision to a few centres in the country together with defining the pathways for patients to reach these centres.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)266-269
Number of pages4
JournalPsychiatria Hungarica : A Magyar Pszichiatriai Tarsasag tudomanyos folyoirata
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2018


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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