Objectives To assess referrals to a Field Hospital Mental Health Team (FMHT), assign a diagnosis, provide appropriate treatment, and decide whether suitable for safe return to unit in theatre (RTU), or evacuation home on psychiatric grounds (evac).
Methods All documented referrals to the FMHT of 202 Field Hospital during the Op Telic 1 study period of 17 March (day 1) to 23 July 2003 (day 129) were included. Data were collected on rank, gender, diagnosis, outcome (whether RTU or evac), and whether TA before mobilisation. Diagnosis was assigned by ICD-10 criteria.
Results The FMHT documented 170 cases, 12 of whom were seen twice and one on three occasions, resulting in 184 referrals, all of whom were British. The commonest diagnosis was adjustment reaction (F43), accounting for 68% of all cases (n=116). These were divided between chiefly theatre-related (n=77) or chiefly home-related (n=39) reactions. The majority (94%) of these cases were RTU. Referrals where the diagnosis was a Depressive disorder (F32, n=23) or Intentional self-harm (by sharp object, X78, n=7) were evacuated. Outcome was similar for Regular and TA personnel, with on average 72% of cases RTU. The majority of cases seen were ORs, reflecting their numbers in theatre. Only 14 NCOs and 14 officers were referred. Thirteen of the latter were TA before mobilisation. Gender was not associated with outcome, or TA status, but was associated with rank, in that significantly more female officers were referred. The FMHT role tasks emerged as (a) psychiatric triage and treatment, (b) psychological support of hospital staff, and (c) welfare and pastoral care liaison.
Conclusion The utility of the psychiatric management model employed, built upon previous military medical doctrines, was tested in a modern theatre of conflict, and seemed to prove its worth.
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