HealthDay News — Mental disorders and physical multimorbidity interact to increase the odds of frequent visits to the emergency department, according to a study published in the July 2 issue of CMAJ, the Journal of the Canadian Medical Association.

Myles Gaulin, from Université Laval in Québec, and colleagues examined the interaction between mental disorders and physical multimorbidity with respect to frequent visits to the emergency department among adults in Quebec. Multimorbidity was assessed as the number of physical illnesses, and mental disorders were classified as serious, common, or absent.

The researchers found that for people with mental disorders, each additional physical illness correlated with a greater increase in the absolute risk of frequent visits to the emergency department. For between zero and 4 or more physical conditions, the absolute risk increased more for individuals with serious mental disorders vs common or no disorders (16.2 vs 15.3 and 11.4%, respectively). For individuals with no mental disorders and 4 or more physical conditions, the odds of frequent visits to the emergency department were 6.2-fold higher than for people with no physical conditions. The corresponding odds ratios were 4.75 and 3.7 for individuals with common and serious mental illnesses.

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“This potential synergy between physical multimorbidity and mental disorders significantly increases total impact on public health,” a coauthor said in a statement.

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