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One year of psychiatric presentations to a hospital emergency department during COVID-19

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journal contribution
posted on 18.05.2022, 16:37 authored by Yvonne Hartnett, Khadija Alshurafa, Joseph McAndrew, Darren Daly, Mohamed Alsaffar, David CotterDavid Cotter, Mary CannonMary Cannon, Siobhan Mac HaleSiobhan Mac Hale, Kieran MurphyKieran Murphy, Helen BarryHelen Barry

Objectives: To examine the impact of the first full year of the COVID-19 pandemic and its associated restrictions on the volume and nature of psychiatric presentations to an emergency department (ED) in a large academic hospital.

Methods: Anonymised clinical data on psychiatric presentations to the ED were collected for the 52-week period from the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and compared with corresponding 1 year periods in 2019 and 2018.

Results: There was a significant increase in psychiatric presentations overall to the ED during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic compared to previous years, in contrast to a reduction in total presentations for all other specialties. There was a marked increase in psychiatric presentations of those below 18 years, and in the 30-39 years and 40-49 years age groups, but a decrease in the 18-29 years group. There was a significant increase in anxiety disorder presentations but a decrease in alcohol related presentations. There was no significant change observed in the rates of presentations for self-harm or suicidal ideation.

Conclusions: Psychiatric presentations to the ED have increased during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic in contrast to a decrease in presentations for other medical specialties, with this increase being driven by out-of-hours presentations. The fourfold increase in presentations of young people below the age of 18 years to the ED with mental health difficulties is an important finding and suggests a disproportionate burden of psychological strain placed on this group during the pandemic.

History

Comments

This article has been published in a revised form in Irish Journal of Psychological Medicine https://doi.org/10.1017/ipm.2022.6 This version is free to view and download for private research and study only. Not for re-distribution or re-use. © copyright holder.

Published Citation

Hartnett Y. et al. One year of psychiatric presentations to a hospital emergency department during COVID-19. Ir J Psychol Med. 2022:1-7

Publication Date

14 March 2022

PubMed ID

35285434

Department/Unit

  • Beaumont Hospital
  • Psychiatry

Research Area

  • Neurological and Psychiatric Disorders

Publisher

Cambridge University Press (CUP)

Version

  • Accepted Version (Postprint)