A study is presented of 217 adults referred for psychiatric assessment from the wards of a postgraduate teaching hospital.
The pattern of referral and the disproportionate importance of disturbed behaviour amongst referrals from non-medical wards are discussed. The main diagnostic groups, namely, affective disorders, organic states, psychogenic somatic symptoms and attempted suicide, are tabulated and discussed. Complex problems of diagnosis and management were common and are considered under five headings: multiple pathology; the effects of intensive treatment procedures; language and cultural differences, and difficulties in follow-up.
It is concluded that the problems met in this specialized setting are likely to become general as intensive treatment and diagnostic procedures become more widespread.
The importance of organic reactions is stressed and their relative neglect by both psychiatrists and physicians commented on. The frequency of social precipitants of affective disorders and attempted suicide, however, is considered to emphasize the range of activities required of the psychiatrist in even the most technologically advanced centres.
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