OBJECTIVE: This study compares the satisfaction with emergency interventions among severely mentally ill (SMI) service users of a community-based and a hospital-based mental health service (South-Verona, Italy and Nunhead, South-London, UK). METHODS: A measurement of the satisfaction with psychiatric emergency services was conducted among all those users in the two catchment areas who, in a 1-year period: (1) had at least two contacts with the service; (2) had a diagnosis of psychosis according to ICD10; (3) had not been living in hospital or sheltered apartment for most of the time. These users completed seven items belonging to the Verona Service Satisfaction Scale (VSSS) regarding their satisfaction with crisis response during and out of office hours and their satisfaction with the different interventions, which may be provided during emergencies, such as consultation for the user, consultation for the relative, day-centre attendance, informal and compulsory admission. RESULTS: Users in South-Verona were generally more satisfied with emergency interventions. The main differences between the two samples were due to contacts outside the hospital setting, whilst satisfaction scores for informal admission were similar. The number of users who did not receive, but would have liked, different types of emergency intervention was smaller in South-Verona than in Nunhead. In South-Verona, users wishes mainly concerned consultation for the relatives during emergencies; in the Nunhead sample, the most requested types of intervention were consultation for the user and the possibility of day-centre attendance during crisis. CONCLUSIONS: The findings suggest that users of a service with a well developed community-oriented approach and with crisis intervention outside the hospital setting are more satisfied of the emergency interventions than users of a mental health service relying mostly on hospital facilities during emergencies.
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