Introduction: Emergency departments (ED) manage a wide variety of critical medical presentations. Traumatic, neurologic, and cardiac crises are among the most prevalent types of emergencies treated in an ED setting. The high volume of presentations has led to collaborative partnerships in research and process development between experts in emergency medicine (EM) and other disciplines. While psychosis is a medical emergency frequently treated in the ED, there remains a paucity of evidence-based literature highlighting best practices for management of psychotic presentations in the ED. In the absence of collaborative research, development of best practice guidelines cannot begin. A working group convened to develop a set of high-priority research questions to address the knowledge gaps in the care of psychotic patients in the ED. This article is the product of a subgroup considering “Special Populations: Psychotic Spectrum Disorders,” from the 2016 Coalition on Psychiatric Emergencies first Research Consensus Conference on Acute Mental Illness.
Methods: Participants were identified with expertise in psychosis from EM, emergency psychiatry, emergency psychology, clinical research, governmental agencies, and patient advocacy groups. Background literature reviews were performed prior to the in-person meeting. A nominal group technique was employed to develop group consensus on the highest priority research gaps. Following the nominal group technique, input was solicited from all participants during the meeting, questions were iteratively focused and revised, voted on, and then ranked by importance.
Results: The group developed 28 separate questions. After clarification and voting, the group identified six high-priority research areas. These questions signify the perceived gaps in psychosis research in emergency settings. Questions were further grouped into two topic areas: screening and identification; and intervention and management strategies.
Conclusion: While psychosis has become a more common presentation in the ED, standardized screening, intervention, and outcome measurement for psychosis has not moved beyond attention to agitation management. As improved outpatient-intervention protocols are developed for treatment of psychosis, it is imperative that parallel protocols are developed for delivery in the ED setting.