Physician estimated vs. self-reported subjective memory in depressed patients treated with electroconvulsive therapy

Background: Subjective memory deficits are common in depression and during series of treatment with electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). There is a need for feasible assessment of memory deficit. In the Swedish National Quality Register for ECT, patients’ subjective memory function is rated by a clinician. Self-ratings would be easier to administer.

Objectives: The aim of this study was to analyze the consistency between self-reported and physician estimated subjective memory in depressed patients treated with ECT.

Methods: Fifty-two inpatients treated with ECT for major- or bipolar depression were recruited and 41 of them completed the study protocol. Each patient rated their own subjective memory and had it rated in an interview by a physician both before/in the beginning of the ECT series and after the ECT series. The patients’ memory was rated and self-rated with the memory item in the Comprehensive Psychopathological Rating Scale (CPRS). We then analyzed correlations, and differences in distributions, between self-reported assessment and physician estimates of patients’ subjective memory.

Results: The correlations between the self-reported and the physician estimated ratings of subjective memory were 0.699 (p < .01) in baseline ratings and 0.651 (p < .01) in post-treatment ratings. These correlations were relatively high compared to a previous study on self-reported vs. physician estimated CPRS ratings.

Conclusions: Based on the results in this study, we propose that patients’ self-ratings of subjective memory in association with ECT can be used instead of a physician’s rating of patients’ subjective memory.