The Particulars: Data are lacking on the reasons why patients seek care from and use emergency psychiatric wards.

Data Breakdown: For a study, clinical diagnoses and sociodemographic data were evaluated for 775 patients referred to a hospital’s emergency psychiatric ward. Of referred patients, 54% were women, 45% were single, and 45% were married. Researchers found that 48% were primary school graduates, of whom 77% were unemployed. Also, about 62% of patients were referred by a relative and slightly more than 27% were self-referrals. Less than 7% were referred for consultation by another physician and less than 3% were brought in under police escort. Mood disorders were the most common reason for referral (36%), followed by psychotic disorders and conversion disorders. Of all patients in the study, 31% were admitted to the hospital. The study team determined that 72% of referrals were for actual emergencies, whereas the remaining 28% could have been treated in an outpatient clinic.

Take Home Pearls: Most psychiatric emergency ward patients appear to be self-referrals or referred by a relative. More than one-quarter of these patients do not appear to require emergency services. Study investigators suggested that congestion in psychiatric emergency wards may be relieved by providing patients and relatives with quality information about their diseases and the treatment process.