The rising demand for consultation-liaison psychiatry for older people: comparisons within Liverpool and the literature across time

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To compare the rate of referrals of older people for consultation-liaison psychiatry services over time within Liverpool and with the literature.


All referrals to the liaison psychiatry service for older people in Liverpool between 1999 and 2004 were used to calculate referral rates and compared with data from the same hospital from 1981 to 1989 previously published. Data related to referral rates was extracted from other published studies to allow cross-national comparisons over time.


Between 1999 and 2004 there were 2760 referrals to the Liverpool liaison psychiatry service for older people producing an average annual referral rate of 2.89%. This compares to a referral rate of 0.7% in 1981 and 1.34% in 1989. Comparison with studies from the UK, North America, Europe, Singapore and Taiwan shows an increasing trend across a 30 year period. The rate of referral increases with increasing age up to age 90.


Trends indicate increasing rates of referral of older people to consultation-liaison psychiatry services with greater representation of the older old. Similar effects are likely to be experienced in all nations with an ageing population. Liaison psychiatry services will need professionals trained in old age psychiatry if the needs of this increasing elderly population are to be addressed. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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