Follow-up treatment utilization by hospitalized suicidal adolescents

Shirley Yen, Anne K Fuller, Joel Solomon, Anthony Spirito
Journal of Psychiatric Practice 2014, 20 (5): 353-62
This study examines treatment utilization in a sample of 99 adolescents who were psychiatrically hospitalized due to a risk of suicide and followed for 6 months. Descriptive information regarding participants' use of various forms of outpatient and intensive treatment, including emergency, inpatient, and residential care is presented. In addition, the relationships between utilization of mental health services and various characteristics of the adolescents and their families were assessed. Overall treatment engagement was high, with 78 participants (79%) receiving some care for the duration of the follow-up period and 91 (92%) participating in at least one session of outpatient treatment, although the extent of utilization was highly variable. In addition, 28 participants (28%) were rehospitalized during follow-up. Both family and individual characteristics were associated with differences in adolescents' participation in follow-up treatment. Specifically, adolescents with a family history of mood disorders were more likely to participate in outpatient treatment and less likely to require intensive treatments. Conversely, more impaired baseline functioning and suicide attempts during the follow-up period were associated with greater utilization of intensive treatments and less utilization of outpatient therapy. Given that 19 participants (19%) in our sample attempted suicide during the follow-up interval, the findings of this study suggest that, in spite of high rates of outpatient treatment engagement, rates of suicide attempts and use of intensive treatment services remain high. These results suggest the need for improved outpatient care, as well as possibly longer inpatient stays and more elaborate discharge and transition planning.

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