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Factors influencing length of hospital stay among veterans admitted to an inpatient psychiatric unit

Published:December 16, 2022DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apnu.2022.12.001

      Highlights

      • Hospitalization is appropriate for acute stabilization, prolonged stays can contribute to reduced quality of life, increased healthcare expenditures, and trauma exposure with associated trauma-related symptoms.
      • There are significant differences in the average length of stay between Veterans with substance use disorders and those with psychotic disorders (B=.576, p<.001)
      • Veterans with neurocognitive disorders also had longer lengths of stay than those without neurocognitive disorders, respectively (B=.014, p<.001).

      Abstract

      It is well established that Veterans are at increased risk for mental health problems and associated hospitalization. While hospitalization is appropriate for acute stabilization, prolonged stays can contribute to reduced quality of life, increased healthcare expenditures, and trauma exposure with associated trauma-related symptoms. To reduce inpatient psychiatric length of stay and to improve patient outcomes, it is imperative that risk factors for prolonged length of stay are elucidated. The purpose of this retrospective chart review was to examine demographic and clinical characteristics and their association with inpatient psychiatric length of stay in a sample of Veterans. Demographic information collected included age and race. Clinical characteristics collected included primary admitting psychiatric diagnosis, number of psychiatric emergencies during hospitalization, utilization of restraint or seclusion, observation status, 30-day readmission status, adherence to psychiatric follow-up appointments post-discharge, and presence of suicidality. A total of 820 Veterans were included in the analysis. Age, primary psychiatric diagnosis, occurrence of a psychiatric emergency, and observation status were significant predictors of length of stay (F = 24.39, p < .001). There were significant differences in the average length of stay between Veterans with substance use disorders and those with psychotic disorders (B = 0.576, p < .001). Likewise, Veterans with neurocognitive disorders also had longer lengths of stay than those without neurocognitive disorders, respectively (B = 0.014, p < .001). In summary, quality of mental health care can be improved by reducing length of stay, but additional understanding related to risk factors is first needed.

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