Emergency department patterns in psychiatric visits during the holiday season.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

STUDY OBJECTIVE: To determine the prevalence of psychopathology during the holiday season and which subpopulations are at greatest risk for holiday decompensation. DESIGN: A retrospective analysis of emergency department records. SETTING: ED of a university-affiliated hospital located in a mixed urban-agricultural catchment area in North Carolina. PARTICIPANTS: Eight thousand seven hundred fifty-six patient visits to the ED, with subsequent triage for psychiatric evaluation, for a 6-year period (1987 to 1993), were analyzed. RESULTS: We observed seasonal patterns in visits, with a general decrease in visits preceding holidays followed by an increase afterward. Substance abusers, men, and black patients were more likely to visit the ED than expected, particularly during the weeks surrounding Christmas. CONCLUSION: These results support the existence of a "Christmas effect" on ED visitations by patients with psychiatric symptoms. Understanding of these patterns may help emergency physicians predict the seasonal variation of such patient visits and apply preventive measures accordingly.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Halpern, SD; Doraiswamy, PM; Tupler, LA; Holland, JM; Ford, SM; Ellinwood, EH

Published Date

  • November 1994

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 24 / 5

Start / End Page

  • 939 - 943

PubMed ID

  • 7978568

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0196-0644

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/s0196-0644(94)70210-1


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States