This website requires JavaScript.
DOI: 10.1101/2023.05.17.23290107

Psychiatric hospital admissions and linkages to ambulatory services in the Western Cape Province of South Africa (2015-2022): trends, risk factors, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and possible opportunities for intervention

H. S.Hussey T. Mountford A. Heekes ...+11 H. Mahomed
In recent years, hospital managers have reported increasing numbers of psychiatric hospital admissions in the Western Cape Province of South Africa, driven by poverty and substance use. We aimed to examine this trend, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as assess factors associated with linkage to ambulatory services following hospital discharge and repeat psychiatric admissions. Using electronic health data from the Provincial Health Data Centre, a consolidated routine service database, all psychiatric hospital admissions in the Western Cape public sector from 2015 to 2022 were analyzed, stratified by hospital level. Mixed effects logistic regression was used in this cohort study to determine the factors associated with successful linkage to ambulatory services within 30 days following hospital discharge, and repeat psychiatric admission within 30 and 90 days. We found that psychiatric hospital admissions, particularly at the district/acute level, were increasing prior to 2020 and an increasing proportion of diagnoses were substance related. 40% of admissions at the district level had not been seen at a primary health care facility in the year before the admission. Male patients and those with substance use disorders were less likely to be successfully linked to outpatient services following discharge. Successful linkage was one of the most protective factors against readmission within 90 days with an adjusted odds ratio of 0.76 (95%CI 0.73-0.79) and 0.45 (95%CI 0.42-0.49) at district/acute and specialized hospitals respectively. Improving linkage to ambulatory services by mental health patients post-discharge is likely to avert hospital readmissions.