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A Bradley Hospital study found that young children with oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), behavior marked by disobedience to authority, and co-occurring suicidal thoughts and behavior or posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are at increased risk for readmission following hospital-based psychiatric treatment and may require a higher level of long-term care. While treatment through Bradley Hospital’s Pediatric Partial Hospital Program has been found effective in changing patients’ behavior, the study suggests that additional treatment at the early onset of suicidal or PTSD symptoms may be needed. The paper was published online in Child Psychiatry and Human Development.
“We’ve seen the important connection between suicidal ideation and poor long-term mental health outcomes among adolescents, but by studying these links in young children, we can better understand, predict, and more effectively address the long term mental health needs of our youngest kids,” said John Boekamp, PhD, clinical director of the Pediatric Partial Hospital Program at Bradley Hospital and the study’s principal investigator.
Study participants were 261 children age three to seven who entered the study at the time of their initial partial hospital admission. They were evaluated for suicidal thinking and behavior, as well as other psychiatric conditions such as depression and aggressive behavior. Researchers then analyzed children who returned to the partial hospital program to better understand readmission factors. The study was conducted from 2010 to 2015.
Of the 261 children in the study, 23 percent (or 61 children) were subsequently readmitted -- with most readmissions occurring within one year. Findings showed that younger children with suicidal thoughts and behavior and PTSD needed readmission sooner.
“We want to be able to get started on implementing higher quality treatment and after-care planning for these children as soon as we’ve identified risk factors that are a cause for concern. Early intervention here is key,” added Boekamp.
Boekamp’s primary affiliation is Bradley Hospital, a Lifespan partner. He is also a clinical associate professor in the department of psychiatry and human behavior at The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University.