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Acta Psychiatr Scand. 1998 Oct;98(4):276-82.

Repeated use of psychiatric emergency out-patient services among new patients: a 3-year follow-up study.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of Oulu, Finland.


The aim of this study was to examine repeated use of psychiatric emergency out-patient services during the second and third years after the first contact. A 1-year treated incidence cohort of 537 new patients was studied in the Department of Psychiatry in Oulu, Finland. Repeat users were defined as patients belonging to the upper 10th percentile of the emergency out-patient contacts. The median of emergency out-patient contacts among repeaters was 4. The repeaters constituted 8% of the cohort and they used 65% of the cohort's emergency contacts. They were more likely to be male and living alone, and they tended to have more serious diagnoses than non-repeaters. Having hospital admissions, planned out-patient contacts and repeated emergency out-patient contacts also during the first year of follow-up was associated with an increased probability of repeatedly using emergency services during the second and third years. Living alone and having hospital admissions during the follow-up period were associated with being a continuous repeat visitor during the whole follow-up period. It is concluded that the extended repeated use of emergency services is associated with inadequate social support and serious psychiatric problems.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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