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Postdischarge care for depression in Ontario


Objective — People hospitalized for depression are often discharged before the acute phase of their illness has resolved and need timely care transitions to prevent relapse. We examined 30-day postdischarge service use for Ontarians, aged 15 years or older, who were hospitalized for depression. We focused on a pattern consistent with guideline and policy directions: higher rates of physician visits, postdischarge, combined with lower rates of emergency department (ED) admissions or rehospitalization.

Methods — Administrative data for the fiscal year of 2005 were used to identify hospitalizations for depression and subsequent physician visits, ED admissions, or readmissions for depression within 30 days, postdischarge. Sex, age, income, and geographic location were examined along with the relation between healthcare resources (beds, EDs, and physicians) and postdischarge service use.

Results — Sixty-three percent of patients discharged for depression were followed, within 30 days, by a physician visit for depression. Twenty-five percent were either rehospitalized or visited an ED. Women and people from urban or high income areas were more likely to have postdischarge physician visits. Readmissions and ED visits were correlated with number of EDs, but postdischarge physician visits were not related to the number of general practitioners, family physicians, and psychiatrists in the local area.

Conclusion — One-third of Ontarians hospitalized for depression did not receive recommended follow-up outpatient care within 30 days of discharge and one-quarter received follow-up through ED visits or readmissions, highlighting the need to improve coordination and integration across care settings for these patients. There are tested transitional and outpatient models that improve quality and outcomes of depression care that merit serious consideration.



Lin E, Diaz-Granados N, Stewart DE, Bierman AS. Can J Psychiatry. 2011; 56(8):481-9.

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