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Readmission to an acute psychiatric unit within 28 days of discharge : identifying those at risk

journal contribution
posted on 2010-01-01, 00:00 authored by Thomas Callaly, M Hyland, T Trauer, Seetal DoddSeetal Dodd, Michael BerkMichael Berk
Objective. To examine factors that could help identify those most at risk of readmission to an acute psychiatric in-patient unit within 28 days of a discharge.

Method. A detailed file audit was conducted comparing 54 consecutive patients who had been readmitted within 28 days of discharge with 61 patients, chosen at random, who had not been readmitted during the same period.

Results. Readmission within 28-days of discharge was associated with having been admitted in the previous year (P = 0.004), receiving the Disability Support Pension (P = 0.015), not having a discharge plan sent to the patient’s GP on discharge from the index admission (P = 0.05), receiving follow-up by the mental health team within 7 days of discharge (P = 0.007) and being unemployed (P = 0.015).

Conclusions. Targeting those with previous admissions for focussed discharge planning may help organisations reduce the numbers of unnecessary early readmissions.

What is known about the topic?
Readmission within 28-days of discharge is being increasingly used by service funders and organisations as an indicator of the effectiveness of community care and of the organisation’s ability to provide continuous care across programs. Previous studies, mainly conducted in the US in the mid-90s, often reach contradictory conclusions and their relevance to the Australian setting is limited.

What does this paper add?
This paper uses data from an Australia mental health service. It identifies patient and service characteristics associated with rapid re-admission and provides a baseline to evaluate strategies to reduce the readmission rate.

What are the implications for practitioners? This paper highlights the importance of careful discharge planning and communication with general practitioners particularly in relation to patients who have had previous admissions.



Australian health review






282 - 285


CSIRO Publishing


Melbourne, Vic.







Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2010, AHHA