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Psychiatric Admissions, Referrals, and Suicidal Behavior Before and During the COVID-19 Pandemic in Denmark: A Time-Trend Study

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OBJECTIVE: To assess the patterns in psychiatric admissions, referrals, and suicidal behavior before and during the COVID-19 pandemic.

METHODS: This study utilized health records from hospitals and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) covering 46% of the Danish population (n = 2,693,924). In a time-trend study, we compared the number of psychiatric in-patients, referrals to mental health services and suicidal behavior in years prior to the COVID-19 pandemic to levels during the first lockdown (March 11 - May 17, 2020), inter-lockdown period (May 18 - December 15, 2020), and second lockdown (December 16, 2020 - February 28, 2021).

RESULTS: During the pandemic, the rate of psychiatric in-patients declined compared to pre-pandemic levels (RR = 0.95, 95% CI = 0.94 - 0.96, p < 0.01), with the largest decrease of 19% observed three weeks into the first lockdown. Referrals to mental health services were not significantly different (RR = 1.01, 95% CI = 0.92 - 1.10, p = 0.91) during the pandemic; neither was suicidal behavior among hospital contacts (RR = 1.04, 95% CI = 0.94 - 1.14, p = 0.48) nor EMS contacts (RR = 1.08, 95% CI = 1.00 - 1.18, p = 0.06). Similar trends were observed across nearly all age groups, sexes, and types of mental disorders examined. In the age group <18, an increase in the rate of psychiatric in-patients (RR = 1.11, 95% CI = 1.07 - 1.15, p < 0.01) was observed during the pandemic; however, this did not exceed the pre-pandemic, upwards trend in psychiatric hospitalizations in the age group <18 (p = 0.78).

CONCLUSION: The COVID-19 pandemic has been associated with a decrease in psychiatric hospitalizations, while no significant change was observed in referrals to mental health services and suicidal behavior. Psychiatric hospitalizations among children and adolescents increased during the pandemic; however, this appears to be a continuation of a pre-pandemic trend.

OriginalsprogEngelsk
TidsskriftActa Psychiatrica Scandinavica
Vol/bind144
Udgave nummer6
Sider (fra-til)553-562
Antal sider10
ISSN0001-690X
DOI
StatusUdgivet - dec. 2021

Bibliografisk note

© 2021 John Wiley & Sons A/S. Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

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