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Risk of repeat psychiatric emergency department visits in the postpartum period: a population-based retrospective cohort study


Study Objective — Approximately 1 in 100 postpartum individuals visit an emergency department (ED) for a psychiatric reason. Repeat visits can signify problems with the quality of care received during or after the initial visit; this study aimed to understand risk for repeat postpartum psychiatric ED visits.

Methods — This population-based cohort study used Ontario, Canada health administrative data available through ICES (formerly the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences) to identify all individuals discharged from postpartum psychiatric ED visits (2008 to 2021) and measured the proportion with one or more repeat psychiatric ED visit within 30 days. Using modified Poisson regression, we calculated the association between one or more repeat visits and sociodemographic, medical, obstetric, infant, continuity of care, past service use, and index ED visit characteristics both overall and stratified by psychiatric diagnosis.

Results — Of 14,100 individuals, 11.7% had one or more repeat psychiatric ED visits within 30 days. Repeat visit risk was highest for those with schizophrenia-spectrum disorders (28.2%, adjusted risk ratio 2.41; 95% confidence interval 1.88 to 3.08, versus 9.5% anxiety referent). Low (versus no) psychiatric care continuity, prior psychiatric ED visits and admissions, and initial visits within 90 days postpartum were also associated with increased risk, whereas intentional self-injury was associated with reduced risk. In diagnosis-stratified analyses, the factors most consistently associated with repeat ED visits were past psychiatric ED visits and admissions, and initial visits within 90 days postpartum.

Conclusions — Over 1 in 10 postpartum psychiatric ED visits are followed by a repeat visit within 30 days. Targeted approaches are needed across clinical populations to reduce repeat ED visits in this population with young infants.



Barker LC, Fung K, Zaheer J, Brown HK, Bronskill SE, Kurdyak P, Vigod SN. Ann Emerg Med. 2023; Dec 7 [Epub ahead of print].

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