• community mental health services;
  • medical record linkage;
  • continuity of patient care;
  • patient readmission;
  • longitudinal studies;
  • schizophrenia

Sytema S, Burgess P. Continuity of care and readmission in two service systems: a comparative Victorian and Groningen case-register study. Acta Psychiatr Scand 1999: 100: 212–219. © Munksgaard 1999.

Objective: We compared service consumption, continuity of care and risk of readmission in a record linkage follow-up study of cohorts of patients with schizophrenia and related disorders in Victoria (Australia) and in Groningen (The Netherlands). These areas are interesting to compare because mental health care is in a different stage of deinstitutionaliza-tion. More beds are available in Groningen and more community resources are available in Victoria.

Method: The cohorts were followed for 4 years, since discharge from in-patient services using record linkage data available in the psychiatric case-registers in both areas. Survival analysis was used to study continuity of care and risk of readmission.

Results: Available indicators showed a higher level of continuity of care in Victoria. While the relative risk of readmission was the same in both areas and not affected by aftercare contact after discharge, the number of days spent in hospital was much higher in the Groningen register area.

Conclusion: These findings provide further support for earlier reports that the risk of readmission is predominantly affected by attributes of mental illness. However, the duration of admissions, is strongly affected by service system variables, including the provision of continuity of care.