Predictors of rate of change for children and youth with emotional disorders: a naturalistic observational study

Nilsen, T.S. et al. Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health. Published online: 5 May 2016

Image shows counselling for social anxiety disorder, illustration.

Background: To examine demographic and clinical characteristics as potential predictors of change for children and youth with emotional disorders treated at two child and adolescent mental health outpatient services (CAMHS) in Norway.

Methods: The study was of naturalistic observational type with “treatment as usual” (TAU). The sample consisted of 84 children and youth with emotional disorders. The Health of the Nation Outcome Scale (HONOSCA), and the Children’s Global Assessment Scale (CGAS) were administered at intake (T0), during the assessment (T1) and approximately six months after assessment (T2). Change was analysed by means of the linear mixed models procedure.

Results: For the HONOSCA total score, youths with a diagnosis of depression had statistically higher symptom severity levels at baseline and significantly lower change rates as compared to youths with an anxiety disorder.

Conclusions: The current study adds to the limited knowledge of predictors of rate of change for children and adolescents with emotional disorders treated within CAMHS. Our results point to a special need to improve clinical care for depressed children and adolescents. Important limitations comprising the external validity of the study concern missing data, a small study sample, and lack of information regarding the content and extent of the service provided.

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