High Utilizers of Psychiatric Emergency Services

Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Washington Seattle, Seattle, Washington, United States
Psychiatric Services (Impact Factor: 2.41). 07/2005; 56(6):678-84. DOI: 10.1176/
Source: PubMed


The purpose of this study was to examine the sociodemographic and clinical characteristics of high utilizers of psychiatric emergency services.
Data were collected over four years for 761 patients who were identified as high utilizers according to three definitions (two standard deviations above the mean number of visits to an urban psychiatric emergency service, six visits in a year, and four visits in a quarter) and for 1,585 nonfrequent utilizers (control group). Univariate analysis of variance and logistic regression models were used to determine group differences.
Two distinct groups of high utilizers emerged: high utilizers by quarter and high utilizers by standard deviation. Compared with the control group, the high utilizers were more likely to be homeless, to have developmental delays, to be enrolled in a mental health plan, to have a history of voluntary and involuntary hospitalizations, to be uncooperative, to have personality disorders, to have unreliable social support, and to have a lifetime history of incarceration and detoxification. Compared with the high utilizers by quarter, the high utilizers by standard deviation had more visits and were more likely to have a history of incarceration and psychiatric hospitalization, more likely to be enrolled in mental health plan, and less likely to be homeless.
High utilizers make up a small percentage of individuals who seek care in psychiatric emergency services and disproportionately use resources. It may be helpful to use two definitions of high utilizer to identify patients at different phases of their illness and to guide clinical interventions and mental health policies.

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    • "In contrast to their increasing importance in the ED, anxiety disorders contribute little to the typical PES diagnostic profile [10,21-23]. Preliminary evidence however does suggests that the elderly may possess a PES diagnostic profile different from that of patients < 65, one weighted towards cognitive and/or mood disorders [11,24-28], while that of those < 65 is primarily characterized by chronic psychosis, personality and substance abuse disorders [10,21-23]. In addition, factors other than diagnosis may help differentiate the elderly PES user from those < 65. "
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    ABSTRACT: The impact of an aging population on the psychiatric emergency service (PES) has not been fully ascertained. Cognitive dysfunctions aside, many DSM-IV disorders may have a lower prevalence in the elderly, who appear to be underrepresented in the PES. We therefore attempted to more precisely assess their patterns of PES use and their clinical and demographic characteristics. Close to 30,000 visits to a general hospital PES (Montreal, Quebec, Canada) were acquired between 1990 and 2004 and pooled with over 17,000 visits acquired using the same methodology at three other services in Quebec between 2002 and 2004. The median age of PES patients increased over time. However, the proportion of yearly visits attributable to the elderly (compared to those under 65) showed no consistent increase during the observation period. The pattern of return visits (two to three, four to ten, eleven or more) did not differ from that of patients under 65, although the latter made a greater number of total return visits per patient. The elderly were more often women (62%), widowed (28%), came to the PES accompanied (42%) and reported « illness » as an important stressor (29%). About 39% were referred for depression or anxiety. They were less violent (10%) upon their arrival. Affective disorders predominated in the diagnostic profile, they were less co-morbid and more likely admitted than patients under 65. Although no proportional increase in PES use over time was found the elderly do possess distinct characteristics potentially useful in PES resource planning so as to better serve this increasingly important segment of the general population.
    BMC Psychiatry 07/2011; 11(1):111. DOI:10.1186/1471-244X-11-111 · 2.21 Impact Factor
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    • "Race/ethnicity has been found to be predictor of high service utilization in some (Sullivan et al. 1993; Young et al. 2005), but not all (Segal et al. 1998; Pasic et al. 2005) studies. In this study, we found that Latino race was associated with a decreased likelihood of being classified as an HU as was the ''other'' category that included Asian- American, Native-American, and other race. "
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    ABSTRACT: The purpose of this study was twofold: (1) To investigate the individual- and system-level characteristics associated with high utilization of acute mental health services according to a widely-used theory of service use-Andersen's Behavioral Model of Health Service Use -in individuals enrolled in a large, public-funded mental health system; and (2) To document service utilization by high use consumers prior to a transformation of the service delivery system. We analyzed data from 10,128 individuals receiving care in a large public mental health system from fiscal years 2000-2004. Subjects with information in the database for the index year (fiscal year 2000-2001) and all of the following 3 years were included in this study. Using logistic regression, we identified predisposing, enabling, and need characteristics associated with being categorized as a single-year high use consumer (HU: >3 acute care episodes in a single year) or multiple-year HU (>3 acute care episodes in more than 1 year). Thirteen percent of the sample met the criteria for being a single-year HU and an additional 8% met the definition for multiple-year HU. Although some predisposing factors were significantly associated with an increased likelihood of being classified as a HU (younger age and female gender) relative to non-HUs, the characteristics with the strongest associations with the HU definition, when controlling for all other factors, were enabling and need factors. Homelessness was associated with 115% increase in the odds of ever being classified as a HU compared to those living independently or with family and others. Having insurance was associated with increased odds of being classified as a HU by about 19% relative to non-HUs. Attending four or more outpatient visits was an enabling factor that decreased the chances of being defined as a HU. Need factors, such as having a diagnosis of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or other psychotic disorder or having a substance use disorder increased the likelihood of being categorized as a HU. Characteristics with the strongest association with heavy use of a public mental health system were enabling and need factors. Therefore, optimal use of public mental services may be achieved by developing and implementing interventions that address the issues of homelessness, insurance coverage, and substance use. This may be best achieved by the integration of mental health, intensive case management, and supportive housing, as well as other social services.
    Administration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services Research 05/2011; 39(3):200-9. DOI:10.1007/s10488-011-0350-3 · 3.44 Impact Factor
    • "Individuals who use primary care are mainly female, older, more highly educated, live with a spouse or partner, and generally have anxiety or depressive disorders [29]. Conversely, frequent users of psychiatric services (second- or third-line services) are generally male, young or middle-aged, unemployed, live alone, have low social support and, often, a dual diagnosis of mental and substance use disorder [13,30,31]. Finally, youths and people with substance use disorders only use few health-care services [32,33]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Mental disorder is a leading cause of morbidity worldwide. Its cost and negative impact on productivity are substantial. Consequently, improving mental health-care system efficiency - especially service utilisation - is a priority. Few studies have explored the use of services by specific subgroups of persons with mental disorder; a better understanding of these individuals is key to improving service planning. This study develops a typology of individuals, diagnosed with mental disorder in a 12-month period, based on their individual characteristics and use of services within a Canadian urban catchment area of 258,000 persons served by a psychiatric hospital. From among the 2,443 people who took part in the survey, 406 (17%) experienced at least one episode of mental disorder (as per the Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI)) in the 12 months pre-interview. These individuals were selected for cluster analysis. Analysis yielded four user clusters: people who experienced mainly anxiety disorder; depressive disorder; alcohol and/or drug disorder; and multiple mental and dependence disorder. Two clusters were more closely associated with females and anxiety or depressive disorders. In the two other clusters, males were over-represented compared with the sample as a whole, namely, substance abuses with or without concomitant mental disorder. Clusters with the greatest number of mental disorders per subject used a greater number of mental health-care services. Conversely, clusters associated exclusively with dependence disorders used few services. The study found considerable heterogeneity among socio-demographic characteristics, number of disorders, and number of health-care services used by individuals with mental or dependence disorders. Cluster analysis revealed important differences in service use with regard to gender and age. It reinforces the relevance of developing targeted programs for subgroups of individuals with mental and/or dependence disorders. Strategies aimed at changing low service users' attitude (youths and males) or instituting specialised programs for that particular clientele should be promoted. Finally, as concomitant disorders are frequent among individuals with mental disorder, psychological services and/or addiction programs must be prioritised as components of integrated services when planning treatment.
    BMC Psychiatry 04/2011; 11(1):67. DOI:10.1186/1471-244X-11-67 · 2.21 Impact Factor
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