Hickling, Frederick W.; McCallum, M.; Nooks, L.; Rodgers-Johnson, Pamela E.
Author Affiliation, Ana.
Department of Community Health and Psychiatry
Treatment of acute schizophrenia in open general medical wards in Jamaica
Date of Publication
The study assessed the efficacy of treating acute psychotic illness in open medical wards of general hospitals. The sample consisted of 120 patients with schizophrenia whose first contact with a psychiatric service in Jamaica was in 1992 and who were treated as inpatients during the acute phase of their illness. Based on the geographic catchment area where they lived, patients were admitted to open medical wards in general hospitals, to psychiatric units in general hospitals, or to acute care wards in a custodial mental hospital. At first contact, patients' severity of illness was assessed, and sociodemographic variables, pathways to care, and legal status were determined. At discharge and for the subsequent 12 months, patients' outcomes were assessed by blinded observers using variables that included relapse, length of stay, employment status after discharge, and clinical status. More than half (53 percent) of the patients were admitted to the mental hospital, 28 percent to general hospital medical wards, and 19 percent to psychiatric units in general hospitals. The three groups did not differ significantly in geographic incidence rates, patterns of symptoms, and severity of psychosis. The mean length of stay was 90.9 days for patients in the mental hospital, 27.9 days in the general hospital psychiatric units, and 17.3 days in the general hospital medical wards. Clinical outcome variables were significantly better for patients treated in the general hospital medical wards than for those treated in the mental hospital, as were outpatient compliance and gainful employment. While allowing for possible differences in the three patient groups and the clinical settings, it appears that treatment in general hospital medical wards results in outcome that is at least equivalent to, and for some patients superior to, the outcome of treatment in conventional psychiatric facilities.....