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Long-term care facilities have partly taken over the traditional asylum function of psychiatric hospitals and house an increasing group of patients with mental–physical multimorbidity (MPM). Little is known about the characteristics, behavior, and care dependency of these patients. This paper aims to describe these aspects.
Explorative, descriptive study among patients with MPM without dementia (n = 142), living in 17 geronto-psychiatric nursing home (NH) units across the Netherlands, stratified by those referred from mental healthcare services (MHS) and other healthcare services (OHS). Data collection consisted of chart review, semi-structured interviews, (brief) neuropsychological testing, and self-report questionnaires. Patients referred from MHS (n = 58) and from OHS (n = 84) were compared by descriptive statistics.
Despite exclusion of patients with dementia, the majority of participants had cognitive impairment. Prevalence and severity of frontal impairment were high, as well as the number of patients with clinically relevant neuropsychiatric symptoms. MHS patients were younger, had more chronic psychiatric disorders, and more often used antipsychotics. Neuropsychiatric symptoms, domains of care dependency, physical conditions and concomitant medication use differed not significantly between the subgroups.
Both groups of patients with MPM showed heterogeneity in various aspects but differed not significantly regarding the consequences of their multimorbidity. In a variety of characteristics, this group seems to be different from other NH patient groups, which requires extra knowledge and skills of the staff. To uncover which knowledge and skills are necessary, the next step should be to investigate the specific care needs of NH patients with MPM without dementia.
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