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Am J Psychiatry. 2009 Nov;166(11):1258-68. doi: 10.1176/appi.ajp.2009.08111667. Epub 2009 Oct 1.

The influence of neighborhood environment on treatment continuity and rehospitalization in dually diagnosed patients discharged from acute inpatient care.

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  • 1Department of Geography and Urban Studies, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA 19122, USA.



Environmental contingencies inherent in neighborhoods and communities have been shown to affect individual behavior. The authors analyzed neighborhood and individual factors predicting initial outpatient treatment attendance and rehospitalization within 1 year among patients who were dually diagnosed with at least one mental disorder and a substance use disorder and discharged from an acute psychiatric inpatient care unit.


Stepwise-forward logistic regression modeling and a geographic information system were utilized to assess data extracted from the medical records of 380 patients who, upon hospital admission, had one or more mental health disorders and a positive urine drug screen for prototypical illicit drugs. Geographic data on patients' neighborhood environment were obtained from public sources. Outcome variables were whether a patient attended the first outpatient treatment appointment within 30 days of hospital discharge and whether a patient was readmitted to the inpatient unit within 1 year of discharge. Predictor variables were features relating to individual-level patient characteristics and features associated with neighborhood environment.


Factors that decreased the likelihood of attending the initial outpatient treatment were returning home following hospitalization (versus returning to an institutional setting), residing in an area with a high vacant housing rate, residing in an area far from an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting location, having the chief complaint of bizarre behavior (i.e., grossly inappropriate behavior), and having a urine drug screen positive for heroin. The likelihood of being rehospitalized within 1 year was greater for Hispanic patients, patients who had at least one prior hospital admission, and patients who lived in close proximity to a Narcotics Anonymous meeting location. Patients living in areas with higher educational attainment had a reduced likelihood of rehospitalization.


A more explicit focus on the neighborhood and community context represents an important area in psychiatry, in terms of both research and clinical practice, which can potentially enhance long-term care and treatment planning for psychiatric patients. Future research is needed to better understand the influence of the neighborhood environment to help predict important clinical outcomes.

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