n South African Journal of Psychiatry - Psychiatric emergency service users at Groote Schuur Hospital, Cape Town




&lt;I&gt;Objective.&lt;/I&gt; To document and compare the characteristics of patients assessed at a psychiatric emergency service (PES) during April and May of 1988 and 1998. &lt;br&gt;&lt;I&gt;Design.&lt;/I&gt; Two cross-sectional surveys. &lt;br&gt;&lt;I&gt;Setting.&lt;/I&gt; Groote Schuur Hospital (GSH), Cape Town. &lt;br&gt;&lt;I&gt;Subjects.&lt;/I&gt; Patients assessed at the PES, GSH. <br><I>Outcome measures.&lt;/I&gt; These were occupational status, referral source, distance travelled to get to the hospital, and diagnosis. &lt;br&gt;&lt;I&gt;Results.&lt;/I&gt; Nine hundred and twenty-five patients made 1 081 visits to the unit during a 2-month period in 1988, while during a similar period in 1998, 364 patients made 477 visits. In the latter period the patients were significantly more likely to be skilled workers or students/scholars, to be referred from within GSH or other health facilities, to have travelled less than 10 km to get to the hospital, and to be suffering from a mood disorder or suicidality (and less likely to be suffering from a substance use disorder). &lt;br&gt;&lt;I&gt;Conclusions.&lt;/I&gt; The differences between the two time periods indicate that changes in policy during the period 1988 - 1998 may have impacted on the patient profile at the PES at GSH. It is important to document such changes with a view to informing service planning for both tertiary referral centres and other levels of care.


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