Thursday, 27 January 2011

Electro-Convulsive Therapy - and 'Evidence Based Medicine'

"Don't use homeopathy, there is no evidence" the homeopathy denialists tell us. Well, not only is this nonsense - there is plenty of evidence, empirical (patients getting better) and even RCTs. But the implication of this criticism is that conventional medical treatments are based on good evidence.

Electro-convulsive therapy has been used by conventional medicine to 'treat' mental health patients since the 1950's, and apparently still goes on. What evidence is there for this treatment, that must have been practiced now for over 60 years. None whatsoever

          "Despite ongoing controversy, there has never been a large-scale, prospective study of the cognitive effects of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)" Dr Harold Sackeim, et al, 2007

This is a quotation from an article by the Alliance of Human Research Protection, who have reported on the first trials, which were conducted by Dr Sackeim, and reported in Neuropsychopharmacology (32:244-254. 2007), 'Cognitive Effects of Electroconvulsive Therapy in Community Setting'. It states that:
 This study provides the first evidence in a large, prospective sample that the adverse cognitive effects can persist for an extended period, and that they characterize routine treatment with ECT in community settings.
The study confirmed that ECT can induce long-term memory loss, and other cognitive problems, especially in women (the majority of people subjected to this treatment are women).

So, no evidence for it being effective; but plenty of evidence that it can cause harm. It seems that this is the norm for ConMed.

The full Alliance for Human Research Protection article on this barbaric treatment can be found at