HealthDay News–Psychiatric visits increased significantly during 2020 compared with 2019, but there was a decrease in new patients seeking care, according to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.
Kathryn K. Ridout, M.D., Ph.D., from Kaiser Permanente Northern California in Oakland, and colleagues conducted a retrospective observation study using electronic health records for March 9 to May 31, 2019 (94,720 patients) and 2020 (94,589 patients) to examine changes in psychiatric care in a community-based health care system.
The researchers found that psychiatric visits increased significantly in 2020 compared with 2019, with the majority being telephone/video-based (+264%). There was a 7% increase in psychiatric care volume overall, with the greatest increases seen in addiction, behavioral health in primary care, and adult psychiatry clinics (+42%, +17%, and +5%, respectively). Patients seeking care with preexisting psychiatric diagnoses were mainly stable (−2%), but there was a decrease in new patients (−42%). There were increases in visits for substance use, adjustment, anxiety, bipolar, and psychotic disorder diagnoses (+51%, +15%, +12%, +9%, and +6%, respectively) and for patients aged 18 to 25 and 26 to 39 years (+4% and +4%, respectively). Decreases were seen for child/adolescent and older adult patient visits (−22.7% and −5.5%, respectively).
“A challenge highlighted by the current work is how to reach individuals with emerging psychiatric symptoms who lack prior contact with psychiatric services,” the authors write.