Miriam Hartveit, Eva Biringer, Trond Aarre, Kris Vanhaecht & Aslak Aslaksen

Limitations in referral and discharge letters within Mental Health Care

Referral and discharge letters between primary and specialised mental health care services that contain the necessary patient information can help ensure that patients receive comprehensive and coordinated care. The content of 50 referral letters sent to and 50 discharge letters sent from the Mental Health Division in a Norwegian public health trust was examined. A checklist based on Integrated Care and existing literature concerning the recommended content in referral and discharge letters was used. The referral and discharge letters lacked information, most often in the areas of planning and follow-up of the care process. This study indicates that referral and discharge letters within mental health care for adults have severe limitations, and therefore do not always fulfil their important function. It is important to study the consequences of and the methods to improve this.