Factors Associated With Prolonged Mental Health Admissions at US Children's Hospitals.

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DOI: 10.1542/hpeds.2023-007684


BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Mental health (MH) hospitalizations at medical hospitals are associated with longer length of stay (LOS) compared with non-MH hospitalizations, but patient factors and costs associated with prolonged MH hospitalizations are unknown. The objective of this paper is to assess patient clinical and demographic factors associated with prolonged MH hospitalizations and describe variation in MH LOS across US children's hospitals.

METHODS: We studied children aged 5 to 20 years hospitalized with a primary MH diagnosis during 2021 and 2022 across 46 children's hospitals using the Pediatric Health Information System database. Generalized estimating equations, clustered on hospital, tested associations between patient characteristics with prolonged MH hospitalization, defined as those in the 95th percentile or above (>14 days).

RESULTS: Among 42 654 primary MH hospitalizations, most were aged 14 to 18 (62.4%), female (68.5%), and non-Hispanic white (53.8%). The most common primary MH diagnoses were suicide/self-injury (37.4%), depressive disorders (16.6%), and eating disorders (10.9%). The median (interquartile range) LOS was 2 days (1-5), but 2169 (5.1%) experienced a hospitalization >14 days. In adjusted analyses, race and ethnicity, category of MH diagnosis, and increasing medical and MH complexity were associated with prolonged hospitalization.

CONCLUSIONS: Our results emphasize several diagnoses and clinical descriptors for targeted interventions, such as behavioral and inpatient MH resources and discharge planning. Expanded investment in both community and inpatient MH supports have the potential to improve health equity and reduce prolonged MH hospitalizations.

Journal Title

Hosp Pediatr





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MeSH Keywords

Humans; Female; Male; Child; Adolescent; United States; Hospitals, Pediatric; Length of Stay; Child, Preschool; Mental Disorders; Young Adult; Hospitalization


United States; Pediatric Hospitals; Length of Stay; Mental Disorders; Hospitalization

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