Factors Associated With Global Variability in Electroconvulsive Therapy Utilization

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The aims of this study were to investigate the social and economic factors that contribute to global variability in electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) utilization and to contrast these to the factors associated with antidepressant medication rates.


Rates of ECT and antidepressant utilization across nations and data on health, social, and economic indices were obtained from multiple international organizations including the World Health Organization and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, as well as from the published literature. To assess whether relationships exist between selected indices and each of the outcome measures, a correlational analysis was conducted using Pearson correlation coefficients. Those that were significant at a level of P < 0.05 in the correlation analysis were selected for entry into the multivariate analyses. Selected predictor variables were entered into a stepwise multiple regression models for ECT and antidepressant utilization rates separately.


A stepwise multiple regression analysis indicated that government expenditure on mental health was the only significant contributor to the model, explaining 34.2% of global variation in ECT use worldwide. Human Development Index was the only variable found to be significantly correlated with global antidepressant utilization, accounting for 71% of the variation in global antidepressant utilization.


These findings suggest that across the globe ECT but not antidepressant medication utilization is associated with the degree to which a nation financially invests in mental health care for its citizens.

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