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Year : 2016  |  Volume : 37  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 111-116

Consultation–liaison psychiatric services in Dubai, UAE: a descriptive analysis study

1 Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, Mansoura University, Mansoura, Egypt
2 Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, Suez Canal University, Ismailia, Egypt

Correspondence Address:
Mohamed Shahda
Assistant Prof. Psychiatry, Mansoura University, MD
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/1110-1105.193017

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Introduction Liaison psychiatry refers to the interface between psychiatry and general hospital patients. It involves psychiatrist’s intervention in the care of medically ill patients who present with psychiatric symptoms while in a general hospital setting. It may also involve the assessment of patients who have pre-existing psychiatric illness or those who develop psychiatric symptoms because of their medical or surgical illness. It is estimated that nearly 26.5–60% of the general medical inpatients suffer psychiatric comorbidity. Aim of the study The aim of this study was to evaluate the pattern and the characteristics of liaison referral to the psychiatric department from other general medical and surgical departments at Al Rashid Hospital, Dubai, and its association with clinical and diagnostic factors, and to study the quality and appropriateness of information presented in the referral letters to the psychiatric department. Patients and methods The patients included in the study were recruited from individuals who had been consecutively assessed and treated by the liaison psychiatric team at Rashid Hospital, Dubai, UAE, during the period of 6 months from 1 November 2012 to 30 April 2013. A specially designed data sheet was developed and a pilot analysis on 20 patients was undertaken using the designed data sheet to assess the applicability of data collection and tool arrangement of items, and to estimate the time needed and the feasibility of the study. The data sheet included demographic data, data of patterns of descriptive psychopathology, either physical or mental, before presentation, a mental state examination and cognitive assessment through the Mini Mental State Scale. We identified the following parameters to evaluate the referred letters from GP and other medical or surgical specialists or consultants: the degree of urgency − reason of referral, symptom-relevant life events or stresses, family history of psychiatric disorder, medical history, psychiatric history, treatment given, physical examination and any investigations that have been performed, mental state examination and psychiatric diagnosis. Results The number of referrals over the indicated period was 60 patients (6 months). Suicidal behaviour was the highest among the reasons for referral. The main comorbid physical disorders included 13 (21.7%) endocrine disorders, 11 (18.3%) gastrointestinal tract disorders, 10 (16.7%) central nervous system disorders, seven (11.7%) musculoskeletal system disorders, six (10%) respiratory system disorders, five (8.3%) coronary artery diseases, five (8.3%) urogenital disorders and three (5%) sensory deprivation. The medical history was not mentioned in 46 (76.7%) of the referral letters The action taken by the psychiatrist after assessments were admission to the psychiatric ward for 21 patients (35%), outpatient appointments for 24 (40%) and discharge from psychiatric service for 15 patients (25%). Psychiatrists agreed with the GP diagnosis in 15 cases (25%), but considered the diagnosis inaccurate in 27 (45%) of these cases. Replies of the psychiatrists to the GP referrals were made only in 18 patients (30%); no reply was written in 42 (70%) cases. Conclusion Future research is needed to understand how liaison service can be utilized and sustained most effectively as part of general hospital care. A comprehensive consultation–liaison unit that comprises a sufficient number of multidisciplinary mental health professionals (psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker) is vital in general hospital settings to address the unmet needs.

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