2Bakirkoy Prof. Mazhar Osman Training and Research Hospital for Psychiatry, Neurology, and Neurosurgery, Department of Psychiatry, Istanbul, Turkiye
3Biruni University, Faculty of Medicine, Istanbul, Turkiye
4Private Practice, Department of Radiology, Istanbul, Turkiye
5Istanbul Provincial Health Directorate, Department of Dentistry, Istanbul, Turkiye
6Istanbul University, Cerrahpasa Faculty of Health Sciences, Department of Health Management, Istanbul, Turkiye
Objective: The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has significantly impacted healthcare services, including the administration of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) globally. This article investigates how operational and lockdown strategies at a single center in Turkiye affected patient characteristics undergoing ECT during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Method: Data on ECT patients was evaluated for 12 months, starting with the onset of COVID-19 restrictions, and compared with data on ECT patients from the corresponding 12-month period in the previous year.
Results: Between March 2020 and March 2021, there was a 65.0% decrease in ECT patients and a 67.5% reduction in ECT sessions compared to the previous year. Despite a statistically significant increase in the proportion of patients receiving ECT for emergency reasons in 2020 compared to 2019 (p=0.04), there was no change in the diagnostic profile of these patients (p=0.28). The mean number of ECT sessions, the response to ECT, and the clinical outcomes at discharge were comparable in both periods. However, the hospital stay for ECT patients was significantly longer (p<0.001).
Conclusion: The COVID-19 pandemic had a significant negative impact on ECT services. Data indicate that, even though ECT is considered an aerosol-generating procedure, the infection or disease transmission rate due to the procedure is low when appropriate precautions are taken. Therefore, ECT services should continue during future pandemics.