Estimated prevalences of panic disorder and depression among consecutive patients seen in an emergency department with acute chest pain

J Gen Intern Med. 1993 May;8(5):231-5. doi: 10.1007/BF02600087.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Chest Pain / diagnosis
  • Chest Pain / etiology
  • Chest Pain / psychology*
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Depression / diagnosis*
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Emergency Service, Hospital* / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myocardial Ischemia / complications
  • Myocardial Ischemia / diagnosis
  • Myocardial Ischemia / psychology*
  • Panic Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Panic Disorder / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Prospective Studies
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sex Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires