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September 1978

The Dose-Response Ratio in Electroconvulsive Therapy: A Preliminary Study

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychiatry, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Mental Health Center, Hanover, NH.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1978;35(9):1131-1136. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1978.01770330105010

• To investigate pretreatment patient variables that might correlate with dose-response characteristics of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and treatment outcomes, 14 patients were assessed on a daily basis, before and during treatment, using self-report affective scales, three simple paper-and-pencil tests of cognitive function, and finger-tapping speed. From these data, dose-response ratios and treatment outcome measures were derived. The dose-response ratio of ECT was found to correlate with age-the younger the patient, the more favorable the ratio. This finding is discussed in terms of the known relationships between brain monoamine oxidase levels and age, and the established relationship between seizure duration and treatment efficacy. The dose-response ratio over the first two electroconvulsive treatments as well as lesser degrees of initial cognitive and greater degrees of initial affective impairment correlated strongly with greater overall affective improvement. Some clinical and research implications of these findings are discussed.

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