Indian Journal of PsychiatryIndian Journal of Psychiatry
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Year : 2020  |  Volume : 62  |  Issue : 9  |  Page : 454-458

A comparative study of access to inpatient psychiatric treatment in a public mental health service in Melbourne during COVID-19

North West Area Mental Health Service and The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Vinay Lakra
North West Area Mental Health Services, Melbourne Health, Melbourne
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/psychiatry.IndianJPsychiatry_852_20

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Introduction: Given the paucity of research on how COVID-19 pandemic-associated lockdowns have affected the access to inpatient treatment, the present study was carried out. Aims: This study aims to describe (1) the characteristics of patients who accessed inpatient treatment, (2) the length of inpatient stay and readmissions, and (3) the quality and safety of care as indicated by the type of admission (voluntary/compulsory) and seclusion use during the lockdown period. Materials and Methods: For this comparative database study conducted at North West Area Mental Health Service, the study group included patients who had an admission between March 16, 2020 (starting of social distancing measures in Victoria) and May 12, 2020 (when easing [Stage 1] of social restrictions started). The control group included patients admitted between March 16, 2019, and May 12, 2019. The hospital databases were sources of information. Results: The study and control groups included 104 and 109 patients, respectively. Compared to the control group, the study group had significantly more patients with separated relationship status, a lower number of severe mental illnesses (SMIs), a higher number of substance use disorders, and lower readmissions. A subanalysis within the lockdown period showed more voluntary admissions in the initial phase whereas more compulsory admissions in the later phase at trend significance. Conclusion: Patients with a separated relationship status and a substance use disorder sought inpatient treatment more than others. Aside from exploring the reasons for these findings, it is also important to investigate why SMIs and readmissions decreased during the lockdown period through further studies.



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