Partial hospitalization programs are an increasingly utilized, multidisciplinary treatment for children with social, emotional, and behavioral needs. Although previous work suggests these programs improve children’s mental health functioning, outcomes research has been limited. This study examines moderators of emotional and behavioral outcomes in children with serious mental illness, with particular focus on demographic (age, race, insurance type, and gender) and family (stressors and supports) factors.
The study includes 287 children ages 7–13. Children completed standardized questionnaires at admission and discharge including the Behavior Assessment System for Children-2 the Child Depression Inventory 2, and the Screen for Child Anxiety Related Disorders while caregivers completed the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire.
Results indicate improvements in children’s anxiety, depressive symptoms, psychological adjustment, and emotional symptoms. Furthermore, children with private insurance reported significant decreases in depressive (p < 0.001) and emotional symptoms (p< 0.001) compared to children with state funded insurance. Females reported sharper decreases in depressive symptoms (p< 0.001) compared to males (p= 0.019). Finally, children in families with no stressors in the past month demonstrated sharper declines in depressive symptoms (p< 0.001) compared to children in families with one or more stressors in the past month (p= 0.001). Family support did not moderate these outcomes.
This study suggests partial hospitalization programs may be effective in improving emotional and behavioral problems. This study suggests family stressors are important to consider and emphasize in treatment.