Crisis intervention and acute psychiatry in Amsterdam, 20 years of change: a historical comparison of consultations in 1983 and 2004-2005

L.F.M. van der Post, J.J.M. Dekker, J.F.J. Jonkers, A.T.F. Beekman, C.L. Mulder, L. Haan, W.G. Mulder, R.A. Schoevers

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AIM: There has been a striking increase in the number of compulsory admission proceedings in the Netherlands since 1992, to such an extent that treatment in Amsterdam's psychiatric clinics is in danger of being dominated by coercive treatment. Our aim was to establish a picture of the changes in emergency psychiatry that have contributed to the increase in the number of acute compulsory admissions. METHODS: A cohort (N = 460) of psychiatric emergency consultations with the city crisis service in 1983 was compared with a similar cohort (N = 436) in 2004-2005. The study focused on the following variables: patient characteristics, crisis-service procedures and consultation outcomes. RESULTS: Compared with 1983, there are now more services involved in crisis support in the public domain for psychiatric patients. The number of patients referred by the police has risen from 29% to 63%. In 1983, all consultations took place where the patients were located; at present, 60% take place at the crisis service premises. The number of psychotic patients in the cohort has increased from 52.0% and 63.3 %. There has been an increase in the proportion of compulsory admissions and a sharp decrease in the proportion of voluntary admissions from 61% to 28% of all admissions. Overall, the percentage of consultations leading to a psychiatric admission has fallen from 42% to 27%. CONCLUSION: The front-line outreach service of 1983 has changed into a specialist psychiatric emergency department with a less pronounced outreach component. Voluntary admissions to psychiatric hospitals have almost disappeared as a feature of the crisis service
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)348-358
JournalInternational journal of social psychiatry
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2010

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