Pediatr Emerg Med J.  2022 Jun;9(1):35-40. 10.22470/pemj.2022.00465.

Changes in pediatric psychiatric emergency during the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic

  • 1Department of Pediatrics, Asan Medical Center, University of Ulsan College of Medicine, Seoul, Republic of Korea
  • 2Department of Emergency Medicine, Asan Medical Center, University of Ulsan College of Medicine, Seoul, Republic of Korea


The lifestyle changes during the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic possibly affected mental health among the pediatric population. We aimed to analyze changes in psychiatric emergency-related visits to the emergency department (ED).
We reviewed cases of pediatric patients (≤ 18 years) who visited the ED of a tertiary hospital with psychiatric emergency as a chief complaint from March 2019 through February 2021. The study period was dichotomized by March 2020, starting point of social distancing, into the pandemic and control periods. Clinical data were collected and compared between the 2 periods.
A total of 246 cases with a mean age of 15.2 years were included. The overall visits to the ED decreased to 43.8% whereas the proportion of psychiatric emergency-related visits increased during the pandemic period, compared to the control period (0.5% vs. 1.0%; P < 0.001). The cases with suicidality, including ideation and attempt, increased in both number and proportion during the pandemic period (51 [38.9%] vs. 63 [54.8%]; P = 0.013).
Pediatric psychiatric emergency-related visits, particularly suicidality, proportionally increased during the pandemic. This finding may be useful to prepare psychiatric resources in EDs.


COVID-19; Emergencies; Emergency Service, Hospital; Pediatrics; Psychiatry; Republic of Korea; Suicidal Ideation


  • Fig. 1. Quarterly trend of the psychiatric emergency-related visits (solid line) and overall visits (dashed line) to the emergency department before and during the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic. Vertical dotted line indicates March 2020, starting point of social distancing in Korea.



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