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April 18, 1986

Consensus on Electroconvulsive Therapy

Author Affiliations

Psychiatric Physicians Medical Group Inc Oakland, Calif

JAMA. 1986;255(15):2023. doi:10.1001/jama.1986.03370150065014

To the Editor.—  The proceedings of the consensus development panel convened by the National Institutes of Health on electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) in June 1985,1 and the resulting consensus statement published in JAMA, raised questions about the consensus statement process in general and specific concerns over the handling of the ticklish subject of ECT.One of the most curious practices of the current consensus panel format is the intentional selection of panelists who are expressly not expert in the topic (eg, ECT) under review, although otherwise generally knowledgeable and sagacious.2 This panel of 14 included eight psychiatrists and representatives from neurology, law, psychology and business, and epidemiology. Moreover, to require a short time frame for hearing expert presentations and for preparing an authoritative statement would seem of limited value when grappling with such a complex subject.Given these limitations, the statement on ECT describes with reasonable accuracy the potential