Program manager perspectives on the service system to meet the needs of youth with concurrent disorders: findings from a Canadian national survey

Joanna L Henderson, Gloria Chaim, Stephanie Luca, E B Brownlie, Susan Rosenkranz, Tracey A Skilling, Joseph H Beitchman
BMC Health Services Research 2015 September 18, 15: 393

BACKGROUND: Concurrent mental health and substance use issues are a serious problem for adolescents and transition-aged youth. Service providers across sectors must be involved in informing system change to meet youth needs. This study examines stakeholder perspectives on services for youth with concurrent disorders including 1) clinical issues in youth services; 2) priority system issues; and 3) optimal knowledge translation strategies to enhance researcher-stakeholder communication.

METHODS: A database of youth clinical services across Canada was developed. Program managers (nā€‰=ā€‰481) at cross-sectoral (mental health, addictions, justice, child welfare, advocacy, and outreach) youth-serving (aged 12-24) programs were invited to complete an online survey; 232 responded. Survey questions concerned youth needs, program characteristics, priorities for service system enhancement; and usual and preferred knowledge translation methods.

RESULTS: Across service sectors, the mean estimated proportion of youth using services with concurrent mental health and substance use problems was 55%. Program managers reported routine screening for mental health and substance use concerns (66%), referring to other agencies to meet the concurrent disorder needs of youth (54%), offering specific programming for concurrent disorders (42%), and program evaluation (48%). Notably, mental health programs were significantly less likely to offer concurrent disorders services than addictions programs. Where services do exist, most are targeted at youth aged 12-18 years, with fewer services available for transition-aged youth. Endorsement of various system change goals exceeded 80%, with a particular emphasis on improving access to services (49%), ensuring a continuum of services for varying levels of severity (37%), and improved integration across sectors (36%). Preferred knowledge exchange methods were workshops and websites for receiving information; and focus groups or surveys, rather than intensive participation on research teams, to inform research.

CONCLUSIONS: There is a high need to build capacity across most sectors for meeting the needs of youth with co-occurring mental health and substance use problems, especially for transition-aged youth. In addition, limits in program evaluation should be addressed. Innovative knowledge exchange strategies are needed to better meet the needs of youth with concurrent disorders. Although service providers expressed readiness to participate in service enhancement and knowledge translation activities, effective, feasible approaches must integrate strategies likely to result in desired clinical outcomes, given clinical workload challenges.

Full Text Links

Find Full Text Links for this Article


You are not logged in. Sign Up or Log In to join the discussion.

Related Papers

Remove bar
Read by QxMD icon Read

Save your favorite articles in one place with a free QxMD account.


Search Tips

Use Boolean operators: AND/OR

diabetic AND foot
diabetes OR diabetic

Exclude a word using the 'minus' sign

Virchow -triad

Use Parentheses

water AND (cup OR glass)

Add an asterisk (*) at end of a word to include word stems

Neuro* will search for Neurology, Neuroscientist, Neurological, and so on

Use quotes to search for an exact phrase

"primary prevention of cancer"
(heart or cardiac or cardio*) AND arrest -"American Heart Association"