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


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.



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

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