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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Maryland: Researchers Find Rates of Mental Health Follow-Up Change with Hospital Type and Neighborhood Demographics

After psychiatric hospitalization, follow-up appointments are key for helping patients re-acclimate to normal life, manage their medications and avoid readmission. But not all hospitals are successful at getting their patients to engage in follow-up treatment.

University of Maryland associate professor Dr. Jie Chen and doctoral student Ms. Ivy Benjenk examined factors that can affect hospitals’ follow-up rates: the hospital organizational structures and the neighborhoods they serve.

Analyzing 7- and 30-day mental health follow-up rates among Medicare recipients for different hospitals in 2015, the researchers found that those hospitals located in neighborhoods with high proportions of minority residents or residents living in poverty had lower follow-up rates, as did hospitals associated with larger health systems, public hospitals, psychiatric specialty hospitals and for-profit hospitals.

“Across the board, hospitals in minority communities are performing much worse on this measure,” Ms. Benjenk said. “There’s some evidence that for-profit, system and public hospitals are more likely to be low-performers, too.”

Minority communities often face disadvantages like fewer providers and greater stigma for seeking mental healthcare, and the study’s results suggest that state and local health departments ensure they are meeting the needs of those neighborhoods, Ms. Benjenk said.

The research was published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry this month.