International Journal of Mental Health Nursing
School of Nursing and Midwifery
Australian Research Council Linkage Grant / Department of Health, Government of Western Australia
Unplanned hospital readmission rate is up to 43 % in mental health settings, which is higher than in general health settings. Unplanned readmissions delay the recovery of patients with mental illness and add financial burden on families and healthcare services. There have been efforts to reduce readmissions with a particular interest in identifying patients at higher readmission risk after index admission; however, the results have been inconsistent. This systematic review synthesized risk factors associated with 30-day unplanned hospital readmissions for patients with mental illness. Eleven electronic databases were searched from 2010 to 30 September 2021 using key terms of 'mental illness', 'readmission' and 'risk factors'. Sixteen studies met the selection criteria for this review. Data were synthesized using content analysis and presented in narrative and tabular form because the extracted risk factors could not be pooled statistically due to methodological heterogeneity of the included studies. Consistently cited readmission predictors were patients with lower educational background, unemployment, previous mental illness hospital admission and more than 7 days of the index hospitalization. Results revealed the complexity of identifying unplanned hospital readmission predictors for people with mental illness. Policymakers need to specify the expected standards that written discharge summary must reach general practitioners concurrently at discharge. Hospital clinicians should ensure that discharge summary summaries are distributed to general practitioners for effective ongoing patient care and management. Having an advanced mental health nurse for patients during their transition period needs to be explored to understand how this role could ensure referrals to the general practitioner are eventuated.
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