A 6-year retrospective review of psychiatric emergency service utilization by school-age children

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Clin Child Psychol Psychiatry


To explore utilization patterns and associated clinical factors of school-age children who present to a psychiatric emergency department. This was a 6-year retrospective chart review study of children 5–12 years of age who presented to a psychiatric emergency service from July 2012 to June 2018 (n = 1654 patients). Demographic variables, clinical diagnoses, lifetime adverse events (physical abuse, sexual abuse, and bullying), and history of self-harm were documented for each visit. We performed a chi square analysis to identify association between demographic and clinical features with key outcomes. Increased service utilization as defined by inpatient psychiatric admission, recurrent visits, or increased length of stay were found in patients who were adopted, presented with suicidal ideation or self-harm behaviors, had a history of abuse, and had a diagnosis of depression or autism. Trends over the course of the study indicated a significantly increased percentage of patients presenting with suicidal ideation, bullying, and self-harm behaviors. The data add to the limited literature regarding school-age children with a psychiatric emergency. Increased emergency service utilization for certain subgroups of children and trends over the course of the study underscore the need for enhanced treatment options for individuals with certain demographic or clinical features, and increased outpatient, intermediate, and inpatient treatment options, as well as preventative care.

Medical Subject Headings

Humans; Child; Retrospective Studies; Emergency Services, Psychiatric; Self-Injurious Behavior; Suicidal Ideation; Hospitalization; Emergency Service, Hospital

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ePub ahead of print





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