A qualitative study of key stakeholders’ perceived risks and benefits of psychiatric electroceutical interventions

Laura Y. Cabrera, Gerald R. Nowak, Aaron M. McCright, Eric Achtyes, Robyn Bluhm

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Amid a renewed interest in alternatives to psychotherapy and medication to treat depression, there is limited data as to how different stakeholders perceive of the risks and benefits of psychiatric electroceutical interventions (PEIs), including electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and deep brain stimulation (DBS). To address this gap, we conducted 48 semi-structured interviews, including 16 psychiatrists, 16 persons diagnosed with depression, and 16 members of the general public. To provide a basis of comparison, we asked participants to also compare each modality to front-line therapies for depression and to neurosurgical procedures used for non-psychiatric conditions. Across all stakeholder groups, perceived memory loss was the most frequently mentioned potential risk with ECT. The most discussed benefits across all stakeholder groups were efficacy and quick response. Psychiatrists most often referenced effectiveness when discussing ECT, while patients and the public did so when discussing DBS. Taken as a whole, these data highlight stakeholders’ contrasting perspectives on the risks and benefits of electroceuticals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)217-235
Number of pages19
JournalHealth, Risk and Society
Issue number5-6
StatePublished - 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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