Risk factors for repeated emergency compulsory psychiatric admissions

BJPsych Open. 2020 Dec 22;7(1):e19. doi: 10.1192/bjo.2020.153.


Background: The characteristics of patients who have repeated compulsory psychiatric admissions are largely unknown.

Aims: To investigate the frequency and risk factors for repeated emergency compulsory psychiatric admission (ECPA); and to identify targets for interventions to reduce repeated ECPA.

Method: Data were collected from a database of electronic patient files (EPFs) held by three psychiatric emergency services (PES) in the Netherlands. Analyses were based on the data for adult patients (aged 18-75 years) with a first PES contact in 2010-2015. Using descriptive statistics and regression analysis, we studied the associations between baseline patient factors and repeated ECPA and time to readmission, within a 2-year follow-up period.

Results: We included 6059 patients: 15.6% had two or more ECPAs. In total, 66% of second ECPAs had occurred within 6 months of the first. About 30% of all ECPAs were repeated ECPAs. Two baseline factors were associated with a higher frequency of a second ECPA: history of receiving any mental healthcare treatment, whether in-patient or out-patient or both, and a lower level of self-care. Three were associated with a lower frequency: ethnicity (other than Dutch), older age and suicidality. Lower Global Assessment of Functioning (GAF) scores and housing problems were associated with a shorter time to compulsory readmission and persistent psychiatric problems with a longer time to compulsory readmission.

Conclusions: We found that 15.6% of patients had two or more ECPAs. Two-thirds of the second ECPAs had occurred within 6 months of the first. Like earlier studies, the risk factors we identified suggest that interventions to reduce the risk of repeated compulsory psychiatric admission should seek to improve self-care, general daily functioning and homelessness.

Keywords: Emergency psychiatry; coercion; compulsory admission; functioning; self-neglect.