Long-term subjective memory after electroconvulsive therapy.

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TitleLong-term subjective memory after electroconvulsive therapy.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsSigström, R, Nordenskjöld, A, Juréus, A, Clements, C, Joas, E, Pålsson, E, Landén, M
JournalBJPsych Open
Date Published2020 Mar 09

BACKGROUND: There have been reports of long-term subjective memory worsening after electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).

AIMS: To study the prevalence and risk factors of long-term subjective memory worsening among patients receiving ECT in routine clinical practice.

METHOD: Patients (n = 535, of whom 277 were included in the final analysis) were recruited from eight Swedish hospitals. Participants' subjective memory impairment was assessed before ECT and a median of 73 days after ECT using the memory item from the Comprehensive Psychopathological Rating Scale. Participants also rated their pre-ECT expectations and post-ECT evaluations of the effect of ECT on memory on a 7-point scale. We used ordinal regression to identify variables associated with subjective memory worsening and negative evaluations of the effect of ECT on memory.

RESULTS: Comparisons of pre- and post-ECT assessments showed that subjective memory worsened in 16.2% of participants, remained unchanged in 52.3% and improved in 31.4%. By contrast, when asked to evaluate the effect of ECT on memory after treatment 54.6% reported a negative effect. Subjective memory worsening was associated with negative expectations before ECT, younger age and shorter duration of follow-up.

CONCLUSIONS: Although subjective memory improved more often than it worsened when assessed before and after ECT, a majority of patients reported that ECT had negative effects on their memory when retrospectively asked how ECT had affected it. This might suggest that some patients attribute pre-existing subjective memory impairment to ECT. Clinicians should be aware that negative expectations are associated with subjective worsening of memory after ECT.

Alternate JournalBJPsych Open
PubMed ID32148217
PubMed Central IDPMC7176828