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January 26, 2024

Ohio State study: Mental health interventions can cut hospital readmissions for trauma patients

Hospital readmission rates for trauma patients can be cut significantly with more extensive mental healthcare after discharge, a new study found (Source: “Ohio State study documents success of mental health interventions as key to recovery for trauma victims,” Cleveland Plain Dealer, Jan. 22).

Readmission rates are a common hospital performance metric. They serve as an indicator that patient needs are being met, and reducing readmission rates tends to lower health care costs.

However, victims of trauma — things like motor vehicle crashes, firearm injuries and domestic violence —often need more than treatment of their physical injuries. The new research shows that long-term mental health care is an important part of a complete recovery for these patients and offers a large improvement over the current standard of care.

The five-year study, published in the journal "Annals of Surgery," led by an Ohio State researcher, followed 171 patients seen at a University of Washington trauma center who were randomized to receive either standard care or a comprehensive intervention designed to address their mental health.

The study found that if hospitals consistently and comprehensively supported trauma survivors with mental health needs, including after they’re discharged, the survivors were less likely to find themselves back in the hospital in crisis.