Review: Alternatives to inpatient care for children and adolescents with mental health disorders

Ka Ho Robin Kwok*, Sze Ngar Vanessa Yuan, Dennis Ougrin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: Intensive community services may provide an alternative to inpatient care but there is little systematic evidence of their efficacy. This article provides a systematic review of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) reporting efficacy of intensive community services versus inpatient care in youth. Method: Data sources were identified by searching Medline, PsychINFO and EMBASE databases as of December 2014. RCTs comparing intensive community services versus inpatient care in children and adolescents (through age 18) were included. Results: Six unique RCTs including 569 youth were identified. The RCTs examined the efficacy of specialist outpatient treatment, multisystemic therapy, day patient treatment, intensive home treatment and supported discharge services versus inpatient care. Using intensive community services was associated with clinical improvements similar to inpatient care in most studies. Where differences in clinical outcomes existed, they tended to favour intensive community treatment. Using intensive community services was associated with shorter hospitalizations, lower costs and greater patient satisfaction. There were no independent replications of the results. Few studies investigated the use of intensive community treatment as an alternative to inpatient care in children and adolescents with severe immediate risk to self and others. Conclusions: Intensive community services appear to be a viable alternative to inpatient care. Independent replication of results achieved by specific intensive community treatment models is a research priority.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-10
Number of pages8
JournalChild and Adolescent Mental Health
Volume21
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2016

Keywords

  • Adolescence
  • Inpatient care
  • Intensive community services
  • Randomized controlled trials

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