Evaluation of the transitional discharge model on use of psychiatric health services: An interrupted time series analysis

Melody Lam, Lihua Li, Kelly K. Anderson, Salimah Z. Shariff, Cheryl Forchuk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


What is known on the subject?: The period between hospital discharge and community reintegration is a vulnerable time for people with mental illness due to a lack of continuity of care. They are at a high risk of undesired outcomes, including return to hospital. Many transitional models have been developed. It is important to continue evaluating models for improvement and adaptability to different contexts. The transitional discharge model (TDM) is an intervention that incorporates both continued support from hospital staff after discharge and peer support to facilitate a smooth transition. Previous studies have reported positive outcomes such as increased discharges, decreased readmissions, reduced inpatient length of stay and improved quality of life. What the paper adds to existing knowledge?: Health service use outcomes were examined separately for acute and tertiary care psychiatric units. Previous TDM studies in Canada only examined tertiary care units, but many patients also receive care in acute care units. Although recent studies of different interventions generally reported decreased readmissions, the current study found readmissions increased after TDM and then decreased over time for acute care units, whereas no change was observed for tertiary care units. What are the implications for practice?: Transitional discharge model evidence supports nursing practice based on interpersonal relations and strategies. Nurses need to be aware of peer support resources to facilitate this part of the model. The effectiveness of TDM may be increased by considering the differences in needs of distinct patient groups, such as those discharged from acute versus tertiary care units. Abstract: Introduction The transitional discharge model (TDM) bridges hospital discharge and community living for people receiving psychiatric services. TDM, based on Peplau's theory of interpersonal relations, ensures continued support from hospital staff until a therapeutic relationship is established with community providers and formal peer support. Aim To compare temporal trends in psychiatric health services use before and after TDM implementation within acute and tertiary care psychiatric units in Ontario, Canada. Method Using health administrative databases, monthly discharges from psychiatric units 3 years prior to 2 years after TDM implementation were identified. Median inpatient length of stay (LOS), psychiatric readmission rates and mental health-related emergency department visit rates were compared using segmented regression analyses. Results Among acute care units, median LOS decreased significantly below the projected historical trend following TDM implementation, while readmissions increased significantly and declined thereafter. No significant changes were found for tertiary care units. Discussion Studies on various interventions have shown decreased readmission rates, whereas the trend differed between acute and tertiary care units in this study. Possible reasons include different patient needs and staff practices. Implications for Practice Needs of people from different unit types should be considered when implementing TDM. Nurses should recognize the development of therapeutic relationships and availability of peer support resources.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)172-184
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • discharge
  • health services
  • interrupted time series
  • length of stay
  • mental health
  • readmission
  • transitional discharge model


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