Characteristics of hospital emergency room visits for mental and substance use disorders


Objective: This study compared characteristics of visits to emergency rooms (ERs) for mental and substance use disorders and for physical health conditions to establish a baseline against which to measure changes after full implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and parity legislation. Methods: The retrospective, cross-sectional analysis fit a logistic regression model to pooled data comprising 193,526 observations from National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NHAMCS) data from 2005 to 2011. Results: ER visits for mental or substance use disorders increased from 27.9 per 1,000 ER visits in 2005 to 35.1 in 2011. Homeless persons and nursing home residents had the highest rates of such visits-173.7 and 95.2 per 1,000 ER visits, respectively, in 2011. Conclusions: Understanding differences in profiles of ER visits on the basis of the reason for the visit can inform the design of more cost-effective policies to guide ER intake, after further implementation of the ACA and parity legislation.

Publication Title

Psychiatric Services