Bridging the gap between the emergency department and outpatient care: feasibility of a short-term psychiatric crisis intervention for children and adolescents

Idit Dekel*, Nimrod Hertz-Palmor, Shirel Dorman-Ilan, Mor Reich-Dvori, Doron Gothelf, Itai M. Pessach

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Child and adolescent mental health systems are facing limited resources of available psychosocial interventions, often leading to long waiting lists for acceptance to treatment. We describe the feasibility of a short-term (8–10 sessions) psychological crisis intervention (CI) protocol for children and adolescents aged 8–17 years (n = 30, mean ± standard deviation 12.9 ± 2.4 years) who were referred to an outpatient mental health clinic due to suicidal ideation, aggression, severe anxiety, or extreme family conflict. The participants were assessed before and after the CI, and at a 3–6-months follow-up visit. The psychiatric assessments included clinical evaluation by a senior psychiatrist, and the completion of self-report questionnaires by both the participants and their parents. Following the establishment of the CI unit, the waiting lists for urgent cases were reduced from a median of 84 days in the two preceding years to 23 days in the following 3 years (H[2] = 18.5, p < 0.0001) for patients of the CI unit. A 1-year psychiatric follow-up after the end of the CI revealed that 72% did not require additional psychotherapy. The overall clinical evaluation measures (clinical evaluation, parents-report and child report) improved and had been preserved at the 3–6-months follow-up. Our results demonstrate the feasibility of a short-term CI protocol for expediting admission to treatment for urgent psychiatric cases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)631-637
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Volume32
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2023

Keywords

  • Adolescents
  • Children
  • Crisis intervention
  • Short-term psychotherapy
  • Suicide prevention
  • Waiting list

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