Referrals to a liaison psychiatry out-patient clinic in a UK general hospital: a report on 900 cases.
Bass C., Bolton J., Wilkinson P.
OBJECTIVE: To describe the demographic and clinical characteristics of consecutive referrals to an out-patient liaison psychiatry clinic in a large university hospital in the UK. METHOD: We studied 900 patients using a standardized proforma. Assessments of functional capacity were made using the Global Assessment of Functioning (GAF) scale, and each patient was assigned a psychiatric diagnosis using ICD-10 criteria. RESULTS: Four of five of all referrals presented with somatic complaints, and 41% had a concurrent physical illness. The most common psychiatric diagnoses were somatoform disorders (55%) and neurasthenia (11%). Although more than half (59%) had no previous psychiatric history, a surprisingly high number (35%) had significant functional impairment (scores of < 50 on the GAF scale). The lack of adequate psychological treatment services often provided a barrier to optimal management of some of the more disabled patients. CONCLUSION: The general hospital liaison psychiatry clinic provides an acceptable setting in which to assess and manage patients referred from non-psychiatric colleagues.