Adolescents hospitalized for psychiatric disorders experience more emotional distress in adulthood

08/02/04

CHICAGO — Adolescents hospitalized for psychiatric disorders are more likely to report higher levels of emotional distress as adults, and are less likely to graduate from high school and complete college or graduate school, according to an article in the August issue of The Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, a theme issue on mental health and one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

According to the article, adolescent psychiatric illness is associated with later psychological difficulties, family and parental stress, and lost economic and educational opportunity. More than 103,000 short-term psychiatric hospitalizations (of less than 30 days) of youths under age 15 were recorded in 2000. However, little is known about the long-term outcomes for these hospitalized psychiatric patients.

Karin M. Best, Ph.D., of the University of California, Los Angeles, and colleagues followed 70 adolescents psychiatrically hospitalized between the ages of 12 and 15 (between 1978 and 1981) for 20 years. They also followed a group of 76 public high school students as a control group.

The researchers found that psychiatrically hospitalized youths were significantly more likely to die (four deaths) and to report higher levels of emotional distress. "At 25 years of age, the psychiatrically hospitalized youths reported significantly higher emotional distress on [one of the surveys] than did the high school youths," the authors write. "Between the ages of 25 years and mid-30s, significantly fewer hospitalized youths reported increases in degree attainment (three reported a high school diploma; two reported a college degree). In contrast, 16 high school youths earned a graduate degree, and two earned a college degree."

The researchers write: "In sum, the findings of this study document the continued vulnerability of maturing youths and suggest a need for mental health services to minimize later emotional distress and mortality, together with educational support to increase high school completion and educational attainment from the time of hospital discharge to early and mid-adulthood."

Source: Eurekalert & others

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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