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Does discharge planning prevent readmission to
inpatient psychiatric units?

Prepared by:

Holly Missio
Occupational Therapist - Central Coast Health


November, 2002

Review Date:

November, 2004

Clinical Question:

Does discharge planning prevent readmission to inpatient psychiatric units?

Clinical Scenario:

Staff of some inpatient psychiatric units spend many hours per week in meetings dedicated to discharge planning for clients in their service. These meetings can include many inpatient and community health professionals and so can come at a great cost to the service in funding this use of health professional’s time. Is there high quality evidence which supports the resources spent in discharge planning?

Clinical Bottom Line:

There is currently no high quality evidence to support the effectiveness of discharge planning for inpatient psychiatric units. Lower levels of evidence identify the following issues in relation to discharge planning for inpatient psychiatric units:

  • Some articles proposed that discharge from psychiatric wards was often unplanned with little collaboration with the patient, their family and community services.
  • Discharge planning can have a greater impact in the areas of strengthening daily activities post discharge and linking patients with post hospital community supports. Discharge planning is more challenging in the area of finding suitable living arrangements for patients and securing residential placements.
  • Factors identified for successful discharge planning include: Involvement of consumers in a collaborative process, multidisciplinary input, education about diagnosis and symptom management and effective community support.
  • Measurement tools used to measure aspects of discharge planning include: The Discharge Readiness Inventory, the Mount Sinai Discharge Planning Inventory and the Discharge Planning Schedule.

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