Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Use of psychiatric services by patients in a general hospital.

BMJ 1991; 303 doi: (Published 26 October 1991) Cite this as: BMJ 1991;303:1029
  1. R Mayou,
  2. V Seagroatt,
  3. M Goldacre
  1. University Department of Psychiatry, Warneford Hospital, Oxford.


    OBJECTIVE--To identify physical disorders associated with increased rate of use of psychiatric services. DESIGN--Retrospective analysis of routine abstracts of general hospital inpatient records linked with those of psychiatric care, for inpatients with physical disorders with possible psychiatric associations and for controls. SETTING--Oxfordshire health district. SUBJECTS--Inpatients aged 15-64 years discharged from general hospitals during 1975-85 with a diagnosis among 14 selected diagnostic groups (including potentially life threatening conditions, chronic disabling diseases, and non-specific symptomatic conditions) and control inpatients with acute conditions. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES--Observed and expected numbers of patients receiving psychiatric care. RESULTS--Observed use of psychiatric services before and after index admission was close to that expected for controls. For most other diagnoses the observed use was significantly increased in the year preceding and that subsequent to the admission. For four diagnostic groups it was significantly greater in the year after admission than in that before (acute myocardial infarction (ratio before to after 2.17, 95% confidence interval 1.5 to 3.3), cancer (2.05, 1.7 to 2.5), diabetes mellitus (1.89, 1.4 to 2.9), and chest pain (1.78, 1.3 to 2.4)). During four years after the admission the use of psychiatric services was significantly higher than in the general population for nonspecific symptomatic conditions (observed/expected: abdominal pain 1.7, chest pain 2.0, and headache 4.2), cirrhosis of the liver (10.4), and fractures in road accidents and other fractures (1.3, 1.6). CONCLUSIONS--More patients with certain physical conditions used psychiatric services. Alternative methods of service delivery may be needed, especially for disabling chronic physical illness, alcohol related disorders, and non-specific symptomatic conditions.