Electroconvulsive therapy is a treatment that, since its first administration, has been a major topic for debate within the scientific world. In recent years, the debate has become increasingly focused on the short- and/or long-term efficacy of electroconvulsive therapy, its appropriateness in clinical settings, its mechanism of action, the impact evaluation of transient and/or persistent adverse effects, and the drafting of international guidelines, etc.

From the authors’ point of view, these themes are inevitably crossed by three other fundamental issues of significant psychological, relational, ethical, and medico-legal impact. Still, they are less studied than purely biomedical issues in recent times. Therefore, the aim of this article is to focus on the following cross-cutting issues: the therapist-patient relationship, the patient’s perspective, the attitude on electroconvulsive therapy, and informed consent.

This short review refers to the international literature on ECT published since 2000. Analyses of the three previously listed topics are, in part, made within the context of Italian medical settings.

Keywords: Electroconvulsive therapy, Psychological perspective, Medico-legal perspective, Patient’s perspective, Therapist-patient relationship, Patient-centered care model.
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