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The ethics of ECT

The project uses qualitative methods, mainly interview, (maximum 30) in order to explore the experience of individuals (18-66 years old) treated with electroconvulsive shock therapy for depression.

Illustration of head with lighetning bolt

ECT illustration: colourbox

About the project

An increasing number of studies show that ECT has some beneficent effects, and benefits may outweighing the risks. However, there is a lack of knowledge about the long-term effects and therefore uncertainty about the method’s beneficence. This renders ECT a controversial treatment method that also bears a stigma given its historical context and practice.

Research has often focused on measuring treatment outcomes but less seldom on the challenging ethical aspects of ECT especially seen from the patients’ viewpoint. Patient’s own accounts can represent an invaluable source of knowledge and help shade light on known or covert morally challenging aspects of the practice.


The project will take an empirical approach to ethics and aims to explore with the help of in-depth interviews the subjective experience and narratives of patients having undergone ECT.


  • ExtraStiftelsen
  • Rådet for psykisk helse

Start - finish

2017 - 2020

Published Apr. 26, 2017 2:45 PM - Last modified Feb. 9, 2022 12:09 PM