There is little research evidence as to whether general adult psychiatry or old age psychiatry should look after old people with enduring mental illness.
To compare the extent to which general adult and old age psychiatric services meet the needs of older people with enduring mental illness.
A total of 74 elderly patients with functional psychiatric disorders were identified by reviewing the notes of patients over the age of 60 living in a defined inner urban catchment area. Data were collected on the morbidity and needs of the sample. Needs were assessed using the Elderly Psychiatric Needs Schedule (EPNS).
The participants in contact with old age psychiatry had significantly fewer unmet needs compared with those in contact with general adult psychiatry (2.8 v. 5.6, t = 2.2, P<0.03). Total needs were not significantly different between those managed by old age and general adult services (8.0 v. 6.5 respectively, t = 1.2, P = 0.2).
This study found that old age psychiatry services were better placed to meet the needs of elderly people with mental illness. This finding supports the need for a separate old age psychiatry service.
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