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March 1977

A Contrast of the Three More Common Illnesses With the Ten Less Common in a Study and 18-Month Follow-up of 314 Psychiatric Emergency Room PatientsII. Characteristics of Patients With the Three More Common Illnesses

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychiatry, Washington University School of Medicine, St Louis. Dr Munoz is currently in private practice in Sheboygan, Wis, and Dr Marten is in private practice in Springfield, Ill.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1977;34(3):269-281. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1977.01770150027002

• The three more common illnesses diagnosed in the sample of 314 emergency room patients were (in order of frequency) affective disorder (N = 135), alcoholism (N = 112), and antisocial personality (N = 57).

This study describes the occurrence and frequency of affective disorders and evaluates the relative usefulness of three separate sets of diagnostic criteria for the depressive phase of the illness, which are considered in three self-evident, mutually exclusive groups, the definition of which depends on chronology of onset in relation to other diagnoses. Findings show a 3:2 ratio of primary affective disorder to secondary affective disorder.

The 112 diagnoses of alcoholism were based on defined criteria that separated "definite" (N = 102) from probable (N = 10) alcoholism. A high incidence of secondary affective disorder (38%) in patients with a first diagnosis of alcoholism is noted.

The third most common diagnosis, antisocial personality, was based on defined criteria requiring a specified number of manifestations both before and after age 15 years. Only 11% of the antisocial personality patients received a single diagnosis of antisocial personality. An additional diagnosis of alcoholism occurred in 61%. Besides antisocial symptoms, the 57 patients reported 74 different nonantisocial symptoms, supporting the conclusion that antisocial personality patients may be as susceptible to neurotic and psychotic symptoms as other patients.