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Utilisation of emergency departments of behavioural disorders and supply of workforce in Nebraska


Background Emergency departments (EDs) have become entry points for treating behavioural health (BH) conditions, thereby rendering the evaluation of their utilisation necessary.

Objectives This study estimated behavioural-related hospital-based ED visits and outcomes of leaving against medical advice as well as the incurred charges within the primarily rural State of Nebraska. Also, the study correlated behavioural workforce distribution and location of EDs with ED utilisation.

Methods Nebraska State Emergency Department Database provided information on utilisation of services, charges, diagnoses and demographic. Health Professional Tracking Services survey provided the distribution of EDs and BH workforce by region. To examine the effect of patient characteristics on discharge against medical advice, multivariable logistic regression modelling was used.

Findings US$96.4 million were ED charges for 52 035 visits for BH disorders over 3 years. Of these, 35% and 50% were between 25 and 44-years old and privately insured, respectively. The uninsured (OR:1.53, p=0.0047) and 45–64 years old (OR:2.31, p<0.001) had higher odds of leaving against medical advice. The findings from this study identified ED outcomes among high-risk cohort.

Conclusions There were high ED rates among the limited number EDs facilities in rural Nebraska. Rural regions of Nebraska faced workforce shortages and had high numbers of ED visits at relatively few accessible EDs.

Clinical implications Customised rural-centric public health programmes, which are based in clinical settings, can encourage patients to adhere to ED-treatment. Also, increasing the availability of BH workforce (either via telehealth or part-time presence) in rural areas can alleviate the problem and reduce ED revisits.

  • emergency services
  • behavioral health conditions
  • mental health
  • substance-related disorders
  • health services
  • rural health

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