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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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.


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.


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.


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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