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To Your Health: NLM update Transcript

Child mental health and longer hospitalizations: 01/03/2017

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Greetings from the National Library of Medicine and MedlinePlus.gov

Regards to all our listeners!

I'm Rob Logan, Ph.D., senior staff, U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM).

Here is what's new this week in To Your Health - a consumer health oriented podcast from NLM - that helps you use MedlinePlus to follow up on weekly topics.

Children and teens with mental health conditions experience comparatively longer and more expensive hospital stays for 10 common medical and 10 common surgical conditions with additional implications for their care, finds a comprehensive study recently published in Pediatrics.

The study, based on more than 670,000 U.S. hospitalizations among 3-20 year olds, found young persons with some mental health problems stayed in surgical hospitals for 4.2 days compared to 3.6 days for children and teens without similar mental health issues. Some of the mental health issues assessed in the study include: anxiety, depression, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorders. Some of the surgical procedures evaluated in the study include: appendectomy, gall bladder removal, and knee surgery.

The study also found children with some mental health conditions were in medical hospitals for 2.7 days compared to 2.5 days for young persons without additional mental health conditions. While seemingly small, these differences are statistically significant.

More importantly, the aggregate results suggest children and teens with some mental health conditions were hospitalized for an addition 31,729 days compared to young persons with similar illnesses without mental health conditions.

The study finds it cost about $90 million more to treat hospitalized children and teens with mental health conditions compared to young persons without mental health conditions. The study is based on a database of findings from 44 U.S. states in 2012.

The study's seven authors suggest their findings have implications for mental health services and hospital care for young Americans. The authors write (and we quote): 'depression, anxiety, and substance abuse were the three types of mental health conditions associated with the greatest additional resource use, which is consistent with a growing body of evidence showing that these conditions are associated with worse hospital outcomes' (end of quote).

The authors add (and we quote): "...given the current shortage of hospital-based mental health clinicians, findings from this study also support future research to examine hospital capacity to care for children with psychiatric disorders to inform resource allocation and workforce development' (end of quote).''

The authors also suggest the findings raise issues such as whether the additional days needed to treat young persons with mental health conditions reflect higher or lower quality mental health assistance, or if delays are linked to diagnostic and other medical treatment complications.

Finally, the authors note the study's results may underestimate the impact on U.S. hospitals to treat children and teens with some mental health conditions. The authors write (and we quote): 'Because many adolescents have undiagnosed mental health conditions, the population of hospitalized adolescents who could benefit from mental health support is likely larger than the population identified in the current study' (end of quote).

Meanwhile, the American Psychological Association provides a guide to children's mental health within the 'start here' section of MedlinePlus.gov's child mental health health topic page.

A website from Mental Health America suggests what every child needs for good mental health within the 'related issues' section of MedlinePlus.gov's child mental health health topic page.

MedlinePlus.gov's child mental health health topic page also provides links to the latest pertinent journal research articles, which are available in the 'journal articles' section. Links to relevant clinical trials that may be occurring in your area are available within the 'clinical trials' section. You can sign up to receive updates about child mental health as they become available on MedlinePlus.gov.

To find MedlinePlus.gov's child mental health health topic page, please type 'child mental health' in the search box on MedlinePlus.gov's home page, then, click on 'child mental health (National Library of Medicine).' MedlinePlus.gov also has a health topic page devoted to teen mental health.

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