The National Service Framework for Coronary Heart Disease recommends that psychological support should be offered to those patients who require it. A six-month study carried out at Darlington Memorial Hospital looked at psychological support needed by patients following myocardial infarction (MI). The psychological status of MI patients was formally assessed using the Hospital Anxiety and Depression (HAD) scale and appropriate referrals were made to psychological support services to improve patient management. The study also measured the impact that formal assessment of the psychological status of MI patients would have on service providers.
Some 80 MI patients from the Darlington primary care trust (PCT) were eligible for inclusion in the study. Psychological assessment was undertaken at four stages during cardiac rehabilitation and 25 patients were eligible for referral for psychological support as a result of high HAD scores measured during the study period. Ten patients accepted referral, a higher number than during the previous six-month period when HAD scales had not been used. Eight patients were referred to occupational therapy services for help with anxiety issues, one patient was referred to the psychology service and one to liaison psychiatry. Both of these patients required help with depression.
The study also found a high degree of patient satisfaction. The support received may also be required by many other groups of patients.