Characteristics of patients referred by police to a psychiatric hospital

R. Maharaj, D. Gillies, S. Andrew, Louise O'Brien

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


To identify any differences between patients referred by police compared with patients referred from other sources, to a psychiatric hospital in Australia, a retrospective audit of 200 patient files was undertaken. The two most common reasons for the involuntary referral of patients by police were bizarre ideas (33%) and threats of suicide (28%). When 101 patients referred by police were compared with 99 patients from other sources, police referrals were three times more likely to be diagnosed with a mental and behavioural disorder because of psychoactive substance use, less likely to be diagnosed with a mood disorder, and less likely to be diagnosed as psychotic. Police referrals were more likely to have worse functional scores; exhibit aggressive behaviour; spend fewer days in hospital; more likely to be admitted to the psychiatric intensive care unit, and to be secluded. The most important predictor for a police referral was drug or alcohol problems. The study indicates that patients referred by the police were more likely to demonstrate particular characteristics compared with patients referred by other sources.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)205-212
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2011


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