A biopsychosocial evaluation of readmissions to a mental hospital.
Since deinstitutionalization many patients, instead of remaining in the community, revolve through the doors of psychiatric facilities resulting in the "Revolving Door Syndrome". Hence a biopsychosocial evaluation of readmissions was undertaken to see what processes came into play once a patient was discharged from a mental hospital and subsequently readmitted. Seventy Indian patients admitted to the Midlands hospital complex, Pietermaritzburg were interviewed and the data was collected. This comprised 40 readmissions and a control group of 30 first admissions. The diagnosis was made according to DSM-III-R. The results obtained were statistically analyzed and a chi square analysis was done to ascertain if there were any significant differences between the 2 groups. The following were the major findings 1. Most of the patients were in age group 20-29 years. 2. There was a preponderance of males in both groups. 3. Most of the patients in the readmitted group were unemployed and were receiving a disability grant. 4. The majority of patients was single or separated. 5. Most of the patients were discharged on a combination of drug and depot preparation. 6. A large percentage had two and more previous admissions. 7. Length of stay was less than 1 month in a large number of patients. 8. Community tenure was less than 1 year in most of the patients. 9. Even though the majority of patients reported regular attendance, a fair percentage reported attendance at the community clinic. 10. The reason for readmission was mainly aggressive behaviour and aggressive behaviour associated with substance abuse. 11. The discharge diagnosis was schizophrenia in a large number of patients. This study has several important implications for the community care of the patient and various recommendations are made to curtail the revolving door, as follows : 1. There is an urgent need for community based resources. eg. sheltered workshops, supervised housing, industrial and occupational therapy, halfway houses and day hospitals, which would help the chronically mentally ill patients lead more meaningful lives following discharge. 2. The family of the chronically mentally ill patient needs to be actively involved in the management of these patients and mental health workers must solicit the family's support, by educating them about schizophrenia, helping them to increase coping mechanisms and to decrease stress. It is recommended that support groups be held in the community for the families of patients. 3. The patient's family needs to be advised that when the patient show signs of decompensation, they should take the patient to the community clinic, rather than to the District Surgeon to avoid unnecessary rehospitalization. 4. The importance of maintenance medication cannot be overemphasised. There is a need to change the attitude of the patient and family with regard to their negative attitude about medication. 5. The high rate of readmission due to aggressive behaviour (which is aggravated by substance abuse) needs intervention. Substance abuse groups must be held in the community and the community needs to be educated about the consequences of substance abuse in the mentally ill.