The Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale as an Acute Inpatient Outcome Measurement Tool: A Pilot Study

Background: Recent guidelines for length of stay at psychiatric hospitals may have an unacceptable impact on patient outcome at discharge. A valid measurement tool is needed to evaluate significant patient change during brief hospitalization, typically 7 days, and to provide early prediction of unfavorable short-term outcome. This study examines the utility of the Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale (BPRS) as such a tool.

Method: During a 2-month testing period, the BPRS was administered to 87 successive adults admitted to an acute general psychiatric inpatient unit at admission, 2 days, 7 days, and weekly thereafter until discharge. Total BPRS scores and 4 subscores were used in the data analysis, which included paired t tests and correlation analyses.

Results: Mean BPRS total scores demonstrate significant (p < .001) patient improvement at days 2, 7, and 14 of the hospital stay. Changes in subscores and their relationship to eventual outcome vary across diagnostic groups.

Conclusion: The BPRS appears to be a useful inpatient outcome measure since it is capable of demonstrating significant change during brief stays of 1 week or less. Subscale scores may provide more specific prediction of change and may help clarify outcome in individual patients who show insignificant change by total score.

J Clin Psychiatry 2000;61(6):418-421