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Homelessness at discharge and its impact on psychiatric readmission and physician follow-up: a population-based cohort study

Laliberté V, Stergiopoulos V, Jacob B, Kurdyak P. Epidemiol Psychiatr Sci. 2020; 29:e21. Epub 2019 Mar 7. DOI: 10.1017/S2045796019000052.

Aims — A significant proportion of adults who are admitted to psychiatric hospitals are homeless, yet little is known about their outcomes after a psychiatric hospitalisation discharge. The aim of this study was to assess the impact of being homeless at the time of psychiatric hospitalisation discharge on psychiatric hospital readmission, mental health-related emergency department (ED) visits and physician-based outpatient care.

Methods — This was a population-based cohort study using health administrative databases. All patients discharged from a psychiatric hospitalisation in Ontario, Canada, between 1 April 2011 and 31 March 2014 (N = 91 028) were included and categorised as homeless or non-homeless at the time of discharge. Psychiatric hospitalisation readmission rates, mental health-related ED visits and physician-based outpatient care were measured within 30 days following hospital discharge.

Results — There were 2052 (2.3%) adults identified as homeless at discharge. Homeless individuals at discharge were significantly more likely to have a readmission within 30 days following discharge (17.1 v. 9.8%; aHR = 1.43 (95% CI 1.26-1.63)) and to have an ED visit (27.2 v. 11.6%; aHR = 1.87 (95% CI 1.68-2.0)). Homeless individuals were also over 50% less likely to have a psychiatrist visit (aHR = 0.46 (95% CI 0.40-0.53)).

Conclusion — Homeless adults are at higher risk of readmission and ED visits following discharge. They are also much less likely to receive post-discharge physician care. Efforts to improve access to services for this vulnerable population are required to reduce acute care service use and improve care continuity.