Teens Need Better Psychiatric Follow-Up

Teens with psychiatric disorders are not getting sufficient care after hospitalization

(RxWiki News) Teenagers who require hospitalization for mental health problems continue to be at risk for future problems. Yet they may not be getting the care they need.

A recent study found that teens discharged from psychiatric hospital services were not always getting follow-up care. In fact, less than half of over 7,000 teens studied saw a doctor within a year after being discharged.

Additionally, teens who had tried to harm themselves or commit suicide and teens who had substance use disorders were almost half as likely to have follow-up care as the other teens they tracked.

"Follow-up with a doctor after discharge."

The study was led by Corine Carlisle, the clinical head of the Youth Addiction and Concurrent Disorders Service with the Center for Addiction and Mental Health in Ontario, Canada. Dr. Carlisle and her colleagues aimed to find out how much follow-up care teens received after they were discharged from a hospital for psychiatric services.

They tracked 7,111 teens, aged 15 to 19, who were discharged from psychiatric hospital care between April 2002 and March 2004 in Ontario. They then checked medical records to find out how much time passed before each patient met with a primary care doctor or psychiatrist with the next 13 months.

They found that 24 percent of the teens met with a primary care doctor or psychiatrist within a week of discharge and 49 percent met with a doctor within one month after their discharge.

The teens were more likely to have a follow-up appointment with a family doctor or psychiatrist if they came from a higher socioeconomic background or if they had a diagnosis of a psychotic disorder.

Those less likely to receive follow-up care were teens living in rural areas and teens who had attempted suicide or had substance abuse problems.

"Timely aftercare is crucial in maintaining the health of youth with mental illness and avoids future hospitalization" said Dr. Carlisle, in a release about the study. "What is concerning is that some of those most in need are not receiving follow-up, including youth with lower socioeconomic status and those who have been diagnosed with more than one mental illness."

The study was published in the November issue of the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry. Information was unavailable regarding funding and disclosures.

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Review Date: 
November 24, 2012