Predictors of emergency department visits by persons with intellectual disability experiencing a psychiatric crisis

Psychiatr Serv. 2012 Mar;63(3):287-90. doi: 10.1176/


Objective: This study identified predictors of emergency department use by persons with intellectual disability during psychiatric crises.

Methods: Data were analyzed for 576 adults with intellectual disability who were living in three urban centers in Ontario, Canada, and who experienced a psychiatric crisis between 2007 and 2009. Those who visited an emergency department in response to the crisis (N=96) were compared with those who did not (N=480).

Results: Multiple logistic regression analysis identified one predisposing, three enabling, and two need variables that were significant predictors of emergency department visits: level of disability, type of residence, crisis plan, family physician, history of involvement with the criminal justice system, and history of emergency department visits.

Conclusions: Both need variables and variables not related to need predicted emergency department visits by persons with intellectual disability. Prevention efforts should focus on individuals who receive fewer community supports and who have previous emergency department visits.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Health Services Needs and Demand*
  • Humans
  • Intellectual Disability / complications
  • Intellectual Disability / epidemiology*
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / complications
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Ontario
  • Persons with Mental Disabilities / psychology
  • Persons with Mental Disabilities / statistics & numerical data*
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Urban Population