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Adult psychiatric hospitalizations in Ontario, Canada before and during the COVID-19 pandemic


Objective — The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on psychiatric hospitalizations in Ontario are unknown. The purpose of this study was to identify changes to volumes and characteristics of psychiatric hospitalizations in Ontario during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Methods — A time series analysis was done using psychiatric hospitalizations with admissions dates from July 2017 to September 2021 identified from provincial health administrative data. Variables included monthly volumes of hospitalizations as well as proportions of stays <3 days and involuntary admissions, overall and by diagnosis (mood, psychotic, addiction, and other disorders). Changes to trends during the pandemic were tested using linear regression.

Results — A total of 236,634 psychiatric hospitalizations were identified. Volumes decreased in the first few months of the pandemic before returning to prepandemic volumes by May 2020. However, monthly hospitalizations for psychotic disorders increased by ∼9% compared to the prepandemic period and remained elevated thereafter. Short stays and involuntary admissions increased by approximately 2% and 7%, respectively, before trending downwards.

Conclusion — Psychiatric hospitalizations quickly stabilized in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, evidence suggested a shift towards a more severe presentation during this period.



Tanner B, Kurdyak P, de Oliveira C. Can J Psychiatry. 2023; Apr 3 [Epub ahead of print].

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