Background: The unique needs of psychiatric patients present to the emergency department (ED) are sometimes undervalued. The purpose of this research is to determine the disparity and challenges in caring for psychiatric patients in EDs.
Methodology: A questionnaire was sent to 103 emergency healthcare providers that included items to evaluate their awareness, attitudes, and practices toward the psychiatric patients presenting to ED.
Results: Among the studied subjects, 55.3% of the participants were males, 83.5% were Saudi nationals, and 69.9% were between 20 and 30 years old. Furthermore, 63.1% were doctors, 65% had less than 5 years of experience, 60.2% had an emergency medicine specialty, and 8.5% worked in general government hospitals. The average percentage of psychiatric patients seen in practice was 20.6% ± 2.3%. As for awareness, knowledge, and practices, the average scores were 0.4 ± 0.2 points out of four points, 1.5 ± 1 point out of 10 points, and 1.2 ± 0.6 points out of five points, respectively. The average score for the three sections was 3.1 ± 1.2 points out of 19 points. Improved awareness levels were significantly identified among experience between 5 and 10 years, and medical specialties (p-value = 0.040), while improved knowledge was found among doctors, and improved practices were identified among doctors (p-value = 0.035) and workers in government specialist hospital. The total score for the three sections was significantly higher among doctors only.
Conclusion: Healthcare providers' awareness, knowledge, and practices working in EDs toward psychiatric patients admitted to the emergency rooms are inadequate and require improvement. Further studies should explore methods of improvement of these inadequate levels.
Key words: Psychiatric patients, emergency departments, healthcare providers, Saudi Arabia.