Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Psychiatric Disorders Seen in SARS Patients

Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Psychiatric Disorders Seen in SARS Patients

Article excerpt

ORLANDO, FLA. -- Psychiatric diagnoses were found soon after hospital discharge in nearly half of the patients who had severe acute respiratory syndrome at one Hong Kong hospital, Dr. Dickson L.Y. Chow reported at the annual meeting of the American Psychosomatic Society.

Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) was named by the World Health Organization in March 2003, following the abrupt appearance of the previously unknown highly infectious respiratory illness.

By mid-August, the 1,755 SARS cases and 300 deaths in Hong Kong were second only to mainland China, with 5,327 cases and 349 deaths, said Dr. Chow of the department of psychiatry at Hong Kong's Prince of Wales Hospital, where 239 SARS patients, or 14% of the country's total, were treated.

Psychiatric consultations were ordered for 3.7% of those 239 patients: this low proportion was probably a reflection of the unique situation presented by SARS--all patients were quarantined, with contact extremely limited. Even when contact was allowed, communication through masks was difficult. On top of that, hospital resources were drained, Dr. Chow explained.

Follow-up screening with the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM IV (SCID-I) that was completed by 129 of the patients--of whom 116 were health care workers--told a different psychiatric story: At a mean of 16 days following discharge, 46% (59) met criteria for at least one psychiatric diagnosis.

Organic disorders, seen in 14.1%, were the most common, followed by adjustment disorder in 10.1%, depression in 5.4%, and both posttraumatic stress disorder and anxiety disorder in 3.4% each of patients; 3.9% had both depression and PTSD, he said.

Of a total 149 patients who were originally approached for this study, two-thirds (63.8%) were female and 49.7% were married. Physicians comprised 15.4%, nurses 38.9%, and medical students 8. …

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