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Aftercare, emergency department visits, and readmission in adolescents


Objective U.S. and Canadian data demonstrate decreasing inpatient days, increasing nonurgent emergency department (ED) visits, and short supply of child psychiatrists. The study aims to determine whether aftercare reduces ED visits and/or readmission in adolescents with first psychiatric hospitalization.

Method The researchers conducted a population-based cohort analysis using linked health administrative databases with accrual from April 1, 2002, to March 1, 2004. The study cohort included all 15- to 19-year-old adolescents with first psychiatric admission. Adolescents with and without aftercare in the month post-discharge were matched on their propensity to receive aftercare. The primary outcome was time to first psychiatric ED visit or readmission. Secondary outcomes were time to first psychiatric ED visit and readmission, separately.

Results The researchers identified 4,472 adolescents with first-time psychiatric admission. Of these, 57% had aftercare in the month post-discharge. Propensity-score-based matching, which accounted for each individual's propensity for aftercare, produced a cohort of 3,004 adolescents. In matched analyses, relative to those with no aftercare in the month post-discharge, those with aftercare had increased likelihood of combined outcome (hazard ratio [HR] = 1.22, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.05-1.42), and readmission (HR = 1.38, 95% CI = 1.14-1.66), but not ED visits (HR = 1.14, 95% CI = 0.95-1.37).

Conclusions — The results are provocative: the researchers found that aftercare in the month post-discharge increased the likelihood of readmission but not ED visit. Over and above confounding by severity and Canadian/U.S. systems differences, our results may indicate a relative lack of psychiatric services for youth. The results point to the need for improved data capture of pediatric mental health service use.



Carlisle CE, Mamdani M, Schachar R, To T. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2012; 51(3):283-93. Epub 2012 Jan 27.

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