Quality of psychiatric referrals to secondary-level care
AbstractObjectives. This study examined the quality of referrals to
secondary-level outpatient psychiatric services rendered by the
Department of Psychiatry, University of the Free State. Referral
letters were evaluated according to specific quality criteria.
Aspects that would enable secondary-level doctors to make
informed decisions in terms of further management and need
for special investigations were specifically considered.
Design. A descriptive study design was used, and convenience
sampling included all referrals to the unit over a 6-month period
(June - November 2007). All referral letters were screened
according to a checklist designed for this study.
Setting. The study was undertaken at the Psychiatry Outpatient
Department of the Pelonomi Provincial Hospital in Bloemfontein,
which functions as a secondary-level referral centre for mental
health in the southern Free State.
Outcome measures. Descriptive statistics (percentages, means
and standard deviations) were used to summarise results.
Results. Two hundred and sixty-three referral letters were included in the study. Less than 20% of the referral letters included information on previous psychiatric consultations, current psychotropic medication, the outcome of physical examinations, and results of special investigations. Only 17 (6%) referral letters indicated a preliminary diagnosis according to an officially recognised classification system.
Conclusion. There was conclusive evidence that the quality
of referrals to the Psychiatry Department was generally inadequate. A need for more effective referral strategies was identified.
The author(s) retain copyright on work published by AOSIS unless specified otherwise.
Licensing and publishing rights
Author(s) of work published by AOSIS are required to grant AOSIS the unlimited rights to publish the definitive work in any format, language and medium, for any lawful purpose.
AOSIS requires journal authors to publish their work in open access under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) licence.
Read more here: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.
The authors retain the non-exclusive right to do anything they wish with the published article(s), provided attribution is given to the applicable journal with details of the original publication, as set out in the official citation of the article published in the journal. The retained right specifically includes the right to post the article on the authors’ or their institution’s websites or in institutional repositories.
Previously published work may have been published under a different licence. We advise the community that if they would like to reuse the work to consult the applicable licence at article level.