Ultrabrief pulse width stimulation electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) results in less cognitive side-effects than brief pulse ECT, but recent work suggests that more treatment sessions may be required to achieve similar efficacy. In this retrospective analysis of subjects pooled from three research studies, time to improvement was analysed in 150 depressed subjects who received right unilateral ECT with a brief pulse width (at five times seizure threshold) or ultrabrief pulse width (at six times seizure threshold). Multivariate Cox regression analyses compared the number of treatments required for 50% reduction in depression scores (i.e. speed of response) in these two samples. The analyses controlled for clinical, demographic and treatment variables that differed between the samples or that were found to be significant predictors of speed of response in univariate analyses. In the multivariate analysis, older age predicted faster speed of response. There was a non-significant trend for faster time to 50% improvement with brief pulse ECT (p = 0.067). Remission rates were higher after brief pulse ECT than ultrabrief pulse ECT (p = 0.007) but response rates were similar. This study, the largest of its kind reported to date, suggests that fewer treatments may be needed to attain response with brief than ultrabrief pulse ECT and that remission rates are higher with brief pulse ECT. Further research with a larger randomized and blinded study is recommended.
- speed of response