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Press Release

Press release

New study looks at trends in re-admissions to Irish Psychiatric hospitals and units

12 November 2007

A new study shows that one in three patients admitted to psychiatric units or hospitals in 2001 were admitted again, at least once, during the following five years. The report by the Health Research Board (HRB) shows that 7% were re-admitted four or more times, which makes them ?frequent users?. The findings clearly indicate that the expansion of community-based services, which has taken place to date, has not reduced the need for inpatient treatment for people with enduring or recurrent illness.

A new study shows that one in three patients admitted to psychiatric units or hospitals in 2001 were admitted again, at least once, during the following five years. The report by the Health Research Board (HRB) shows that 7% were re-admitted four or more times, which makes them ?frequent users?. The findings clearly indicate that the expansion of community-based services, which has taken place to date, has not reduced the need for inpatient treatment for people with enduring or recurrent illness.

The HRB study was conducted to establish;

  • the number of 'frequent users' in the system
  • specific characteristics of people who are re-admitted
  • factors that can be used to predict potential re-admission requirements in the future
  • whether certain places in Ireland had more re-admissions, and if this was linked to availability or the staffing of community psychiatric services

?We found that the majority of patients re-admitted were a recurring or enduring illness, like clinical depression or schizophrenia', says Antoinette Daly, Researcher at the HRB. ?For example, in the period 2001 ? 2005, one in three people were re-admitted for depression, one fifth were re-admitted for alcohol disorders and one in eight were re-admitted for schizophrenia. We also discovered that people re-admitted were more likely to be female, young, unmarried, to have more than one psychiatric illness and be living in a county with a large urban centre?, she says.

?The results show no association between the number of re-admissions and level of service provision, such as the number of community residences, the number of places in these residences or their staffing levels', she explains. ?However, we did find one slight, but noteworthy correlation. In facilities with the more medical staff, patients had a shorter length of stay in the first instance and fewer patients were re-admitted or became frequent users?.

?This important finding requires further research', says Ms Daly. ?Especially as the overall results show that patients who remain in hospital for a longer time when they are first admitted, are more likely to be re-admitted than those who have a shorter stay at first admission'.

?The prevailing high re-admission rate between 2001 and 2005 indicates the need to examine the extent, quality and operation of community services', she says. ?This is particularly important in relation to alcohol disorders, considering that the policy for a number of years has been that people with alcohol disorders should actually be cared for in community settings, not inpatient settings', she concluded.

A full copy of the HRB Research Series 3 report, Re-admissions to Irish psychiatric units and hospitals 2001 - 2005, is available in the publications section of the HRB website at www.hrb.ie/publications. Alternatively, for a hard copy of the report, please contact Fiona Bannon by emailing fbannon@hrb.ie or by phoning +353 1 2345148.

For more information contact:
Gillian Markey, Communications Manager
Health Research Board
m 00353 87 2288514
t 00353 1 2345103
e gmarkey(at)hrb.ie

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