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Study to examine emergency admissions of serious mental illness sufferers

27 April 2012

 A new study funded by the NIHR Health Services and Delivery Research (HS&DR) programme will investigate whether better primary care is associated with a reduction in emergency admissions by people with serious mental illness.  

Serious mental illnesses such as schizophrenia can have a devastating impact on individuals, those nearest to them and on society. Those affected by such illnesses will usually have regular contact with the NHS through their General Practitioner (GP), to monitor both mental and physical health, as well as other professionals such as community mental health teams. Therefore the implementation of strategies such as the Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF) to reward GPs for good quality care should help to reduce the impact of mental health problems.

The rate of unplanned emergency hospital admissions is an important indicator of the level of GP care received by patients.  Admissions in these circumstances for mental health sufferers are costly and cause dissatisfaction amongst service users and carers.  Also, when admitted for the treatment of a physical condition, people with mental health problems tend to stay in hospital for much longer than average.

The multidisciplinary research team will be led by Dr Rowena Jacobs of the University of York’s Centre for Health Economics. They will use indicators from the QOF and routinely collected information from the NHS and other public bodies to look for a link between the level of GP care and unplanned hospital admissions of mental health sufferers.

Commenting on the project, Dr Jacobs said: “Previous research has shown that increased levels of GP care can reduce illness and admissions for those with physical conditions such as diabetes. But whether or not the same link exists for mental health patients has not been examined. “The conclusions of the study will indicate the levels of success increasing the care received from GPs has in reducing unplanned admissions, and could help inform the best approach for further investments in mental health primary care."

Dr Jacobs added: “Reducing the levels of unplanned admissions is a win-win situation. It is better for patients, carers and the NHS.  Therefore determining whether raising the level of GP care reduces these admissions for mental health sufferers is vitally important. ”

View more information about this project.

This project was commissioned by the NIHR Service, Delivery and Organisation (NIHR SDO) programme under the management of the National Institute for Health Research Evaluations, Trials and Studies Coordinating Centre (NETSCC) based at the University of Southampton.  


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The NIHR Health Services and Delivery Research (HS&DR) Programme is managed by the NIHR Evaluation, Trials and Studies Coordinating Centre (NETSCC). NETSCC is part of the University of Southampton funded by the NIHR, with specific contributions from the CSO in Scotland and NISCHR in Wales and the HSC R&D Division, Public Health Agency in Northern Ireland.

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