Predictors of contact with services for mental health problems among children with comorbid long-term physical health conditions: a follow-up study

Laura Panagi*, Simon R. White, Charlotte Howdle, Sophie Bennett, Isobel Heyman, Roz Shafran, Tamsin Ford

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Children with long-term physical health conditions (pLTCs) are at increased risk of developing mental health comorbidities, although most do not access services for their mental health. No previous studies have examined the determinants of contact with services for mental health concerns among this group of children. This 3-year longitudinal study involved a population-based sample of children aged 5–16 years from the British Child and Adolescent Mental Health Surveys conducted in 1999 and 2004. In children with comorbid pLTCs and mental health disorders at baseline (N = 397), we examined associations between several child-, family- and service-related factors and (a) contact with primary health care, (b) contact with paediatrics and (c) contact with child and adolescent mental health services over 3-year follow-up (2002 and 2007). Separate multivariable binary logistic regressions were conducted for each service. The impact of mental health difficulties on the child and contact with the teacher predicted contact with all three services. Adolescent age, female gender, larger family size, some or marked academic difficulties, and having parents with educational qualification(s) were specific predictors of contact with primary health care. Male gender, stressful life events, and contact with primary health care were specific predictors of contact with child and adolescent mental health services. No other factors predicted contact with paediatrics. Our findings highlight the role of child-, family-, and service-related factors in accessing mental health care in children with comorbid pLTCs and mental health disorders which could inform planning and provision of services to reduce unmet mental health needs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-31
Number of pages11
JournalEuropean Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Volume33
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2024

Keywords

  • Children
  • Follow-up
  • Mental health
  • Physical health
  • Predictors
  • Service contact

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