Table_2_Impact of Pandemics/Epidemics on Emergency Department Utilization for Mental Health and Substance Use: A Rapid Review.DOCX
Background: A prolonged COVID-19 pandemic has the potential to trigger a global mental health crisis increasing demand for mental health emergency services. We undertook a rapid review of the impact of pandemics and epidemics on emergency department utilization for mental health (MH) and substance use (SU).
Objective: To rapidly synthesize available data on emergency department utilization for psychiatric concerns during COVID-19.
Methods: An information specialist searched Medline, Embase, Psycinfo, CINAHL, and Scopus on June 16, 2020 and updated the search on July 24, 2020. Our search identified 803 abstracts, 7 of which were included in the review. Six articles reported on the COVID-19 pandemic and one on the SARS epidemic.
Results: All studies reported a decrease in overall and MH related ED utilization during the early pandemic/epidemic. Two studies found an increase in SU related visits during the same period. No data were available for mid and late stage pandemics and the definitions for MH and SU related visits were inconsistent across studies.
Conclusions: Our results suggest that COVID-19 has resulted in an initial decrease in ED visits for MH and an increase in visits for SU. Given the relative paucity of data on the subject and inconsistent analytic methods used in existing studies, there is an urgent need for investigation of pandemic-related changes in ED case-mix to inform system-level change as the pandemic continues.