Objective: 1) To determine whether the frequencies of panic disorder (PD) and depression (DEP) in an emergency department (ED) population were comparable to those in other primary care groups; 2) to evaluate whether patients without the clinical diagnosis of acute cardiac ischemia (ACI) had higher frequencies of these disorders; and 3) to identify characteristic clinical findings in patients with PD or DEP.
Setting: An urban teaching hospital ED.
Patients: Three hundred thirty-four patients with acute chest pain were evaluated prospectively over an eight-week period. The cohort participating (69%-229/334) completed psychiatric screening measures, including the Panic Disorder Self-Rating Scale, the Beck Depression Inventory, and the Zung Self-Rating Anxiety Scale.
Measurements and main results: A symptom profile consistent with PD was identified in 17.5% of the patients (40/229), DEP in 23.1% (53/229), and either disorder in 35% (80/229). The prevalences of PD were similar in those with and without ACI (19.4% vs 16.6%, respectively, p > 0.05). The likelihoods of one or more ED visits for chest pain in the previous year were significantly greater in those with PD (57.5% vs 36%, p < 0.05) and DEP (54% vs 35%, p < 0.05) than in those without these psychiatric disorders.
Conclusion: This study suggests that approximately one in three patients presenting to the ED with acute pain has symptoms consistent with a psychiatric disorder. These disorders occur frequently in both those with and those without acute cardiac ischemia, and clinical variables may help identify these frequent ED utilizers.