An Attempt to Stem the Tide: Exploring the Effect of a 90-Day Transitional Care Intervention on Readmissions to an Acute Male Psychiatric Unit in South Africa

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Abstract

Introduction:

Pressure on inpatient beds often results in premature discharges, which may precipitate early readmission. This has prompted an increased interest in transitional care interventions to bridge the gap between in- and outpatient care to reduce such readmissions. Our study aimed to assess the effect of a Transitional Care Service (TCS) on readmission rates in a high pressure inpatient service which utilizes a premature discharge policy to address bed pressures.

Methods:

Sixty male patients identified for crisis discharge were offered a TCS for the first ninety days after discharge. Patients received a structured intervention consisting of four phone calls and one home visit, focusing on maintaining adherence, appointment reminders and psychoeducation. The TCS patients were retrospectively compared to a matched control group in terms of readmission after 90 days. Data was collected on adherence to medication, attendance of appointments and incidence of substance use.

Results:

There was no significant difference in readmission rates. Prevalence of substance use was very high (90%), especially methamphetamine use (48%). Adherence dropped from 45% (n = 27) at one week post-discharge to 25% (n = 15) at 90 days.

Conclusion:

Structured telephone-based transitional interventions have no effect on readmission rates in this setting. Prematurely discharged patients require more comprehensive support with focus on comorbid substance use.

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