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Depression predicts future emergency hospital admissions in primary care patients with chronic physical illness


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More than 15 million people currently suffer from a chronic physical illness in England. The objective of this study was to determine whether depression is independently associated with prospective emergency hospital admission in patients with chronic physical illness.

1860 primary care patients in socially deprived areas of Manchester with at least one of four exemplar chronic physical conditions completed a questionnaire about physical and mental health, including a measure of depression. Emergency hospital admissions were recorded using GP records for the year before and the year following completion of the questionnaire.

The numbers of patients who had at least one emergency admission in the year before and the year after completion of the questionnaire were 221/1411 (15.7%) and 234/1398 (16.7%) respectively. The following factors were independently associated with an increased risk of prospective emergency admission to hospital: having no partner (OR 1.49, 95% CI 1.04 to 2.15); having ischaemic heart disease (OR 1.60, 95% CI 1.04 to 2.46); having a threatening experience (OR 1.16, 95% CI 1.04 to 1.29); depression (OR 1.58, 95% CI 1.04 to 2.40); and emergency hospital admission in the year prior to questionnaire completion (OR 3.41, 95% CI 1.98 to 5.86).

To prevent potentially avoidable emergency hospital admissions, greater efforts should be made to detect and treat co-morbid depression in people with chronic physical illness in primary care, with a particular focus on patients who have no partner, have experienced threatening life events, and have had a recent emergency hospital admission.

Acceptance Date Oct 3, 2014
Publication Date Oct 12, 2014
Publicly Available Date May 26, 2023
Journal Journal of Psychosomatic Research
Print ISSN 0022-3999
Publisher Elsevier
Pages 54-61
Keywords depression, chronic physical illness, urgent care, hospital admission, primary care
Publisher URL


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