Admissions of elderly patients from English-speaking and non-English-speaking backgrounds to an inpatient psychogeriatric unit

Anne Hassett, Kuruvilla George, Susan Harrigan

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Objective: The aim of this study was to compare differences between elderly patients from non-English-speaking backgrounds (NESB) and English-speaking backgrounds (ESB) admitted to an acute psychogeriatric unit. Method: Sociodemographic and clinical variables were collated from inpatient files for a 12-month period and analysed according to NESB and ESB status. The 1996 Australian Census data were used for comparison of catchment area representation of different ethnic groups. Results: With a few exceptions, admission rates for elderly patients from NESB reflected the representation of that ethnic group in the catchment area population figures. No significant differences were found between the two groups for mean age, length of stay and previous admissions to the unit. Patients from NESB were less likely to be admitted voluntarily and less likely to be diagnosed with affective disorder. These differences were more marked for males, who were more likely to be diagnosed with dementia. Conclusions: These findings suggest that further investigation is required into the accessibility of psychiatric hospitalisation for elderly patients from NESB. Under-recognition of disorders such as depression and reluctance to accept necessary inpatient management are two possible factors that should concern mental health service providers for the ethnic elderly. A subsequent analysis will examine if differences also exist between elderly patients from NESB and ESB who receive community-based psychiatric treatment. Implications for mental health service provision for the elderly from NESB are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)576-582
Number of pages7
JournalAustralian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Dementia
  • Depression
  • Elderly
  • Non-English-speaking background

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