Achieving Equity in Informed Consent: A Culturally-Informed Perspective for the Consideration and Consent of Minority Patients for Electroconvulsive Therapy

Carmen Black Parker, William V McCall, Peter Rosenquist, Niayesh Cortese, E Vanessa Spearman-McCarthy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is highly efficacious to treat severe depression in older adults. Yet, patients of ethnic and racial minorities are consistently underrepresented amongst those who receive ECT across all age groups. One strong hypothesis to explain this disparity is that minority patients are less likely to trust medical professionals and are therefore less likely to consent for ECT. Increasing participation of depressed, elderly, minority patients is uniquely challenging. Senior minority individuals have survived decades of medical and social injustices that no other demographic, specifically younger minorities or clinically-matched Caucasian peers, can truly comprehend from a first-hand perspective. This article provides a perspective based in cultural translational science to conversations of informed consent for ECT that removes our self-imposed stigma against discussing past and ongoing injustices with minority patients. Reducing disparities to geriatric minorities through equity of informed consent means that clinicians must validate the unique minority experience in medicine as it pertains to agreeing to a treatment modality as emotionally, socially, and historically laden as ECT.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAmerican Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
StateE-pub ahead of print - Apr 2 2020


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