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Aims and method: The aim of the study was to compare referrals to a liaison psychiatry service and a neighbouring community mental health team (CMHT). Demographic and clinical information were compared for 100 consecutive referrals to each service. Results: The liaison psychiatry service had a smaller ongoing case-load and a higher referral rate than the CMHT. Larger proportions of patients referred to liaison psychiatry had comorbid physical illness (49 v. 10%) or had harmed themselves (41 v. 10%). More patients referred to the CMHT had a primary diagnosis of a mood disorder (49 v. 28%), but fewer had organic disorders. Clinical implications: The differences in service delivery and clinical problems referred imply that different expertise is required by those working in each service. This supports the view that community and liaison psychiatry are separate specialties, with implications for higher specialist training.

Original publication




Journal article


Psychiatric Bulletin

Publication Date





342 - 345