Physical treatments in psychiatry: Current and historical use in the Southern United States

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Several surveys during the 1970s showed a decline in the use of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). Psychosurgery, insulin coma, and continuous sleep treatment are widely assumed to be in total disuse. This is the first comprehensive survey on the use of physical treatments in psychiatry in the southern United States. Seventy-five percent of 315 surveys sent to psychiatric medical directors and chief residents were returned. ECT was used in 89% of training hospitals, 57% of Veterans Administration hospitals, and 44% of private hospitals, but only 19% of state hospitals within the last year. None of the 19 state hospitals begun since 1970 had started ECT services. Moreover, state hospitals abandoned ECT at a higher rate than private hospitals. The lack of this service in the public sector is a result of sociolegal pressure rather than lack of confidence or enthusiasm for ECT. The other physical treatments were reported to be in almost total disuse.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)345-351
Number of pages7
JournalSouthern medical journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1989
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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