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Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is considered to be the most effective treatment in severe major depression. The identification of reliable predictors of ECT response could contribute to a more targeted patient selection and consequently increased ECT response rates.
To investigate the predictive value of age, depression severity, psychotic and melancholic features for ECT response and remission in major depression.
A meta-analysis was conducted according to the PRISMA statement. A literature search identified recent studies that reported on at least one of the potential predictors.
Of the 2193 articles screened, 34 have been included for meta-analysis. Presence of psychotic features is a predictor of ECT remission (odds ratio (OR) = 1.47, P = 0.001) and response (OR = 1.69, P < 0.001), as is older age (standardised mean difference (SMD) = 0.26 for remission and 0.35 for response (P < 0.001)). The severity of depression predicts response (SMD = 0.19, P = 0.001), but not remission. Data on melancholic symptoms were inconclusive.
ECT is particularly effective in patients with depression with psychotic features and in elderly people with depression. More research on both biological and clinical predictors is needed to further evaluate the position of ECT in treatment protocols for major depression.
Declaration of interest
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