The Clinical Alliance and Research in Electroconvulsive Therapy Network: An Australian Initiative for Improving Service Delivery of Electroconvulsive Therapy

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Abstract

Objective

There is currently substantial heterogeneity in electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) treatment methods between clinical settings. Understanding how this variation in clinical practice is related to treatment outcomes is essential for optimizing service delivery. The Clinical Alliance and Research in ECT Network is a clinical and research framework with the aims of improving clinical practice, enabling auditing and benchmarking, and facilitating the collection of naturalistic clinical data.

Methods

The network framework and clinical and treatment variables collected and rationale for the use of particular outcome measures are described. Survey results detailing the use of ECT across initial participating clinical centers were examined.

Results

The data are reported from 18 of 22 participating centers, the majority based in Australia. Melancholic unipolar depression was the most common clinical indication (78%). Right unilateral (44%) and bifrontal (39%) were the most commonly used electrode placements. Eighty one percent of the centers used individual seizure titration for initial dosing.

Conclusions

There was substantial heterogeneity in the use of ECT between participating centers, indicating that the Network is representative of modern ECT practice. The Clinical Alliance and Research in ECT Network may therefore offer the opportunity to improve service delivery and facilitate the investigation of unresolved research questions pertaining to modern ECT practice.

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