Study shows gaps in inpatient psychiatry for Ontario youth

February 20, 2014, Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute

A first of its kind benchmarking survey was used to evaluate the state of inpatient psychiatry settings and services for youth at hospitals across Ontario, as published today in the Journal of the Canadian Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. On average, the province's services are comparable to other settings internationally, helping youth with the most severe and complex mental health problems, but also show similar signs of inconsistency across settings in the types and quality of inpatient care.

"There is no rhyme or reason for these discrepancies throughout the province," said Dr. Stephanie Greenham, co-author, psychologist and clinical researcher at the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) and Clinical Professor with the School of Psychology at the University of Ottawa. "The planning and staffing of inpatient psychiatry units appears locally determined, but as the demand for skyrockets, youth and families' needs would seem to be better met by adopting a more organized and systematic approach to inpatient care."

Twenty-five hospital-based programs specifically for children and youth requiring hospitalization for a mental health crisis responded to the first provincial benchmarking study of its kind to describe unit characteristics, services, and patient characteristics. Data were collected for a one year period, and included information from the Ontario Network of Child and Adolescent Inpatient Psychiatry Services (ONCAIPS) directory and the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care (MOHLTC) website.

Respondents identified suicide risk as the most prevalent problem precipitating admission, while all settings admitted youth with mood, anxiety and psychotic disorders. Services were predominantly geared toward brief, acute crisis rather than longer term, planned treatment, and the majority of admissions were for adolescents rather than children. There were inequities across settings in access to psychiatry, availability of interdisciplinary staffing, criteria for who gets admitted and who does not, types of treatments provided, rates of involuntary admissions, and tracking of clinical outcomes.

"The study findings confirm that inpatient services are an important and valuable component in Ontario's continuum of services, particularly for children and adolescents with the most severe risks and problems," said Dr. Joseph Persi, co-author and psychologist at the North Bay Regional Health Centre in Sudbury and Adjunct Professor at Laurentian University. "The study leaves us with areas for improvement but also some unanswered questions. One of the most important of these questions, in light of surging admission rates, is 'Are there ways that we can address problems earlier in a manner that reduces the need for hospitalization?'"

ONCAIPS is advocating for provincial best practice standards and planning to help improve access, service quality, and staffing consistency across Ontario. Their steering committee will draft such guidelines for review at its annual general meeting in Ottawa in October 2014.

Explore further: Less than half of youth with mental illness received adequate follow-up care, study finds

Related Stories

Less than half of youth with mental illness received adequate follow-up care, study finds

November 19, 2012
Youth with mental illness are among the most vulnerable, but new research from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) has found that less than half of Ontario youth aged 15 to 19 hospitalized with a psychiatric ...

Research finds opportunity in health care system to reach out to youth contemplating suicide

May 9, 2013
More than 80 per cent of youth who die by suicide had some form of contact with the health care system in the year before their death, according to a new study from St. Michael's Hospital.

Schools may help close gap to mental health services for adolescents with mental disorders

May 6, 2013
A study published in the May 2013 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry found that mental health resources provided by schools are significantly associated with whether adolescents ...

Depressed girls suffer the most

February 12, 2014
Seven out of 10 adolescents with mental health problems also suffer from chronic physical pain. Depressed girls suffer the most.

Mental health youth report paves the way for improved access to youth services

August 14, 2013
A study of a cross-section of youth mental health services across Canada has found that two in five young people receiving services are experiencing significant concurrent mental health and substance use problems. The project, ...

Recommended for you

Modulating molecules: Study shows oxytocin helps the brain to modulate social signals

January 17, 2018
Between sights, sounds, smells and other senses, the brain is flooded with stimuli on a moment-to-moment basis. How can it sort through the flood of information to decide what is important and what can be relegated to the ...

Reducing sessions of trauma-focused psychotherapy does not affect effectiveness

January 17, 2018
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) patients treated with as few as five sessions of trauma-focused psychotherapy find it equally effective as receiving 12 sessions.

Baby brains help infants figure it out before they try it out

January 17, 2018
Babies often amaze their parents when they seemingly learn new skills overnight—how to walk, for example. But their brains were probably prepping for those tasks long before their first steps occurred, according to researchers.

How past intentions influence generosity toward the future

January 17, 2018
Over time, it really is the thought that counts – provided we know what that thought was, suggests new research from Duke University's Fuqua School of Business.

Tracking the impact of early abuse and neglect

January 17, 2018
Children who experience abuse and neglect early in life are more likely to have problems in social relationships and underachieve academically as adults.

Study: No evidence to support link between violent video games and behaviour

January 16, 2018
Researchers at the University of York have found no evidence to support the theory that video games make players more violent.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.