Linkage to care after first hospitalisation for psychosis

Département Universitaire de Psychiatrie Adulte, Site de Cery, 1008 Prilly, Lausanne, Suisse.
L Encéphale (Impact Factor: 0.7). 11/2006; 32(5 Pt 1):679-85.
Source: PubMed


First hospitalisation for a psychotic episode causes intense distress to patients and families, but offers an opportunity to make a diagnosis and start treatment. However, linkage to outpatient psychiatric care remains a notoriously difficult step for young psychotic patients, who frequently interrupt treatment after hospitalisation. Persistence of symptoms, and untreated psychosis may therefore remain a problem despite hospitalisation and proper diagnosis. With persisting psychotic symptoms, numerous complications may arise: breakdown in relationships, loss of family and social support, loss of employment or study interruption, denial of disease, depression, suicide, substance abuse and violence. Understanding mechanisms that might promote linkage to outpatient psychiatric care is therefore a critical issue, especially in early intervention in psychotic disorders.
To study which factors hinder or promote linkage of young psychotic patients to outpatient psychiatric care after a first hospitalisation, in the absence of a vertically integrated program for early psychosis. Method. File audit study of all patients aged 18 to 30 who were admitted for the first time to the psychiatric University Hospital of Lausanne in the year 2000. For statistical analysis, chi2 tests were used for categorical variables and t-test for dimensional variables; p<0.05 was considered as statistically significant.
230 patients aged 18 to 30 were admitted to the Lausanne University psychiatric hospital for the first time during the year 2000, 52 of them with a diagnosis of psychosis (23%). Patients with psychosis were mostly male (83%) when compared with non-psychosis patients (49%). Furthermore, they had (1) 10 days longer mean duration of stay (24 vs 14 days), (2) a higher rate of compulsory admissions (53% vs 22%) and (3) were more often hospitalised by a psychiatrist rather than by a general practitioner (83% vs 53%). Other socio-demographic and clinical features at admission were similar in the two groups. Among the 52 psychotic patients, 10 did not stay in the catchment area for subsequent treatment. Among the 42 psychotic patients who remained in the catchment area after discharge, 20 (48%) did not attend the scheduled or rescheduled outpatient appointment. None of the socio demographic characteristics were associated with attendance to outpatient appointments. On the other hand, voluntary admission and suicidal ideation before admission were significantly related to attending the initial appointment. Moreover, some elements of treatment seemed to be associated with higher likelihood to attend outpatient treatment: (1) provision of information to the patient regarding diagnosis, (2) discussion about the treatment plan between in- and outpatient staff, (3) involvement of outpatient team during hospitalisation, and (4) elaboration of concrete strategies to face basic needs, organise daily activities or education and reach for help in case of need.
As in other studies, half of the patients admitted for a first psychotic episode failed to link to outpatient psychiatric care. Our study suggests that treatment rather than patient's characteristics play a critical role in this phenomenon. Development of a partnership and involvement of patients in the decision process, provision of good information regarding the illness, clear definition of the treatment plan, development of concrete strategies to cope with the illness and its potential complications, and involvement of the outpatient treating team already during hospitalisation, all came out as critical strategies to facilitate adherence to outpatient care. While the current rate of disengagement after admission is highly concerning, our finding are encouraging since they constitute strategies that can easily be implemented. An open approach to psychosis, the development of partnership with patients and a better coordination between inpatient and outpatient teams should therefore be among the targets of early intervention programs. These observations might help setting up priorities when conceptualising new programs and facilitate the implementation of services that facilitate engagement of patients in treatment during the critical initial phase of psychotic disorders.

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Available from: Charles Bonsack, Jun 16, 2015
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