Psychopathological Dimensions in Emergency Psychiatry: Determinants of Admission, Compulsory Treatment, and Therapeutic Intervention

  • Federico DazziEmail author
  • Luigi Orso
  • Angelo Picardi
  • Massimo Biondi


Emergency psychiatry is a challenging field of application, involving specific features, aims, and criticalities. Whereas a categorical approach might show some limitations in this type of context, a dimensional approach seems to be particularly suitable, guiding psychiatrists in the determination of a therapeutic strategy. The current chapter focuses on the dimensional approach to acute psychopathology and its relationship with relevant issues for emergency psychiatry, such as hospitalisation, compulsory admission, and therapeutic intervention. More specifically, we performed a clinical study to evaluate whether a systematic dimensional evaluation, as assessed with the SVARAD, could predict the need for hospitalisation in acute psychiatric patients presenting to the emergency department and to identify which psychopathological dimensions predict the need for hospitalisation. Secondary objectives included identifying the psychopathological dimensions discriminating between voluntarily and compulsorily admitted patients presenting to the emergency department and analysing the relationship between psychopathological dimensions and medications. To this purpose, we recruited a sample of 312 acute psychiatric patients who visited the emergency department of the hospital Policlinico Umberto I (Rome, Italy) and required a psychiatric evaluation. Our results suggested that a systematic examination of the psychopathological condition is fundamental to determining the need for hospitalisation, with Reality Distortion, Apathy, and Impulsivity being the most relevant dimensions involved. Also, this approach differentiates between patients requiring compulsory vs. voluntary treatment, with the former showing higher degrees of Anger/Aggressiveness, Reality Distortion, Activation, Thought Disorganisation and Impulsivity, and lower degrees of Sadness/Demoralisation, Apathy, and Somatic Preoccupation/Somatisation. Finally, the dimensional evaluation guides clinicians through the choice of proper therapeutic intervention, involving both verbal techniques and medication.


Emergency psychiatry Psychiatric hospitalisation Compulsory admission Acute psychopathology Dimensional psychopathology Therapeutic intervention Emergency department 



We are grateful to Drs. Pier Luigi Andreassi, Pier Luca Bandinelli, Maria Caredda, Piero Cipriano, Roberto Delle Chiaie, Massimo Di Genio, Michele Di Nunzio, Giuseppe Ducci, Fabio Di Fabio, Nicoletta Giacchetti, Alessandro Grispini, Michele Majorana, Martino Mistretta, Donato Paciello, Mauro Pallagrosi, Massimo Pasquini, Daria Piacentino, Michele Risso, Massimo Salviati, Lorenzo Tarsitani, and Valeria Trincia for their help with data collection.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Federico Dazzi
    • 1
    Email author
  • Luigi Orso
    • 2
  • Angelo Picardi
    • 3
  • Massimo Biondi
    • 4
  1. 1.Marconi UniversityRomeItaly
  2. 2.Department of Human NeurosciencesSapienza University of RomeRomeItaly
  3. 3.Centre for Behavioural Sciences and Mental HealthItalian National Institute of HealthRomeItaly
  4. 4.Department of Human Neurosciences, Policlinico Umberto I HospitalSapienza University of RomeRomeItaly

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