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Ask the Mental Health Expert Archives 2001-2004

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Psych Patients in the Community

Q. I am doing a paper for my therapeutic communications class. I would like to know both the success and failure rate of psychiatric patients that are discharged from psychiatric hospitals back into a community setting.

A. It's hard to find a single number or set of numbers that address your questions, since much depends on the type of patient, the discharge planning, and the mental health system. In one recent study (Lyons et al, Am J Psychiatry 1997 Mar;154(3):337-40), 255 psychiatric patients admitted to any of seven psychiatric hospitals were followed to determine whether they were readmitted within 6 months of discharge. Of these 255 patients, 45 (17.6%) were readmitted to a hospital during the 6-month follow up period; about 7% of the readmissions occurred within 30 days of discharge.

Readmission was associated with impaired self-care, higher levels of symptom severity, less family involvement, and greater substance abuse complications. This study was done in a regional managed care program and may not be representative of other health care systems.

You may want to take a look at a few other papers on this topic, including those by E.P. Monnelly (Psychiatr Serv 1997 Dec;48(12):1584-6) and Craig et al (Ann Clin Psychiatry 2000 Dec;12(4):233-8).

February, 2002

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