Impact of initial COVID-19 restrictions on psychiatry presentations to the emergency department of a large academic teaching hospital
Objectives: To determine if the initial COVID-19 societal restrictions, introduced in Ireland in March 2020, impacted on the number and nature of psychiatry presentations to the emergency department (ED) of a large academic teaching hospital.
Methods: We examined anonymised clinical data of psychiatry presentations to the ED during the initial 8-week period of COVID-19 restrictions. Data from corresponding 8-week periods in 2018 and 2019 were also extracted for comparison.
Results: Psychiatry presentations to ED reduced by 21% during the COVID-19 restrictions, from 24/week to 19/week when compared with corresponding periods in 2018/2019 (Poisson's Rate Test estimate of difference -5.2/week, 95% CI 1.3-9.1, p = 0.012). Numbers attending for out-of-hours assessment remained unchanged (81 v. 80), but numbers seeking assessment during normal hours decreased (71 v. 114). We observed increased presentations from the <18 age group, but decreased presentations from the 18 to 29 age group (Pearson's Chi-Square 20.363, df = 6, p = 0.002). We recorded an increase in anxiety disorders during the initial COVID-19 restrictions (31 v. 23), and a reduction in alcohol disorders (28 v. 52). The proportion of presentations with suicidal ideation (SI) or self-harm as factors remained unchanged.
Conclusions: Rates of emergency presentation with mental illness reduced during the initial COVID-19 restrictions. This may represent an unmet burden of mental health needs. Younger people may be experiencing greater distress and mental illness during the current crisis. More people sought help for anxiety disorders during the COVID-19 restrictions compared with corresponding data from 2018 and 2019.
CommentsThe original article is available at https://www.cambridge.org/
Published CitationMcAndrew J. et al. Impact of initial COVID-19 restrictions on psychiatry presentations to the emergency department of a large academic teaching hospital. Ir J Psychol Med. 2021;38(2):108-115
Publication Date30 September 2020
- Beaumont Hospital
- Neurological and Psychiatric Disorders
PublisherCambridge University Press (CUP)
- Published Version (Version of Record)