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Evaluating psychiatric morbidity in a general hospital: a two-phase epidemiological survey

  • M. MARTUCCI (a1), M. BALESTRIERI (a1), G. BISOFFI (a1), P. BONIZZATO (a1), M. G. COVRE (a1), L. CUNICO (a1), M. DE FRANCESCO (a1), M. G. MARINONI (a1), C. MOSCIARO (a1), M. PICCINELLI (a1), L. VACCARI (a1) and M. TANSELLA (a1)...


Background. This study aimed to assess psychiatric morbidity and to collect information on disability, life events and family support in a representative sample of patients admitted to a general hospital.

Methods. On the basis of information collected in a pilot study a systematic sample of patients consecutively admitted to seven general medical and seven surgical wards of the Academic General Hospital of Verona was selected and interviewed using a two-phase screening procedure and standardized instruments (GHQ-12, HADS, BDQ and CIDI-PHC). All data were analysed using appropriately weighted logistic regression procedures.

Results. A total of 1039 patients completed the GHQ-12 and 298 (28·7%) were high-scorers: 363 patients were interviewed with CIDI-PHC. The prevalence of ICD-10 cases was 26·1%. The most common psychiatric diagnoses were current depression (12·8%) and generalized anxiety disorder (10·8%), followed by alcohol related disorders (5%). A higher prevalence of ICD-10 cases was found in medical wards, among females, patients older than 24 years, unemployed and separated/divorced people. Life events were associated with psychopathology, and so was the number of disability days. Although 49·8% of ICD-10 cases were identified by the hospital doctors as having a psychological disorder, 23·1% of ICD-10 cases were referred to the liaison psychiatric service.

Conclusion. The results of the present study stress the need to collect epidemiologically-based data on psychological disorders and their recognition not only in general practice, but also in general hospital settings, in order to have a more complete picture of the pathways to specialist care.


Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Dr Maria Maddalena Martucci, Servizio di Psicologia Medica, Ospedale Policlinico, 37134, Verona, Italy.


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