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Psychiatry Res. 2008 Jan 15;157(1-3):53-65. Epub 2007 Sep 27.

What happens to patients seen only once by psychiatric services? Findings from a follow-up study.

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Department of Medicine and Public Health, Section of Psychiatry and Clinical Psychology, University of Verona, Policlinico G.B. Rossi, Piazzale L.A. Scuro 10, 37134 Verona, Italy.


The aim of this study was to identify patient characteristics associated with once-only contact with a community-based mental health service (CMHS) and to re-evaluate these patients 3 months after the contact. A 33-month cohort of new episodes of care was followed up to identify and interview once-only contact patients. Of the 1101 patients who met the study criteria, 165 (15%) were discharged after the first contact, 87 (8%) dropped out after the first contact, 440 (40%) were low users and 409 (37%) were high users of the CMHS in the 90 days after the first contact. A higher score on the Global Assessment of Functioning scale, less severe psychiatric diagnoses and lower socioeconomic status were the factors most associated with once-only contact at baseline. At follow-up clinical conditions of patients who had only one contact (both discharged patients and drop-outs) had improved and, in most cases, they were in contact with other services. Drop-out patients, however, were more unwell and less satisfied with the initial contact. This dissatisfaction may have led these patients to seek help elsewhere. It is possible that some of these extremely low users are in need of a different or more specialized clinical treatment approach.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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