Patients with more severe mental health symptoms are treated in acute inpatient psychiatric units (AIPUs), but the functioning of these units throughout Spain has been challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic. We therefore conducted a descriptive, cross-sectional study to assess the situation. An online survey was distributed to all hospitals with AIPUs in Spain and made accessible for 28 days. Two scientific coordinators were appointed to supervise the scientific and methodological aspects of the study. The most relevant findings include reductions in numbers of beds and staff, insufficient material resources, changes in action protocols and in admission processes, and limitations in routine therapies, such as group and occupational therapy, psychotherapy and psychoeducational programmes. The possibility of performing ECT was also seriously curtailed. This is the first study to evaluate the impact of the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic on AIPUs. These data may help improve the quality of care of patients with mental illness in the future.Copyright © 2021 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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José Manuel Montes