The relationship between psychological characteristics of patients and their utilization of psychiatric inpatient treatment: A cross-sectional study, using machine learning
High utilizers (HU) are patients with an above-average use of psychiatric inpatient treatment. A precise characterization of this patient group is important when tailoring specific treatment approaches for them. While the current literature reports evidence of sociodemographic, and socio-clinical characteristics of HU, knowledge regarding their psychological characteristics is sparse. This study aimed to investigate the association between patients’ psychological characteristics and their utilization of psychiatric inpatient treatment. Patients from the University Psychiatric Clinics (UPK) Basel diagnosed with schizophrenia spectrum or bipolar affective disorders participated in a survey at the end of their inpatient treatment stay. The survey included assessments of psychological characteristics such as quality of life, self-esteem, self-stigma, subjective experience and meaning of psychoses, insight into the disease, and patients’ utilization of psychiatric inpatient treatment in the last 30 months. The outcome variables were two indicators of utilization of psychiatric inpatient treatment, viz. “utilization pattern” (defined as HU vs. Non-HU [NHU]) and “length of stay” (number of inpatient treatment days in the last 30 months). Statistical analyses included multiple regression models, the least absolute shrinkage and selection operator (lasso) method, and the random forest model. We included 112 inpatients, of which 50 were classified as HU and 62 as NHU. The low performance of all statistical models used after cross-validation suggests that none of the estimated psychological variables showed predictive accuracy and hence clinical relevance regarding these two outcomes. Results indicate no link between psychological characteristics and inpatient treatment utilization in patients diagnosed with schizophrenia spectrum or bipolar affective disorders. Thus, in this study, the examined psychological variables do not seem to play an important role in patients’ use of psychiatric inpatient treatment; this highlights the need for additional research to further examine underlying mechanisms of high utilization of psychiatric inpatient treatment.