Intensive home treatment for adolescents in psychiatric crisis [2019]

Adolescents with acute psychiatric disorders are typically treated with long-term clinical admission. However, long term admission may be associated with a variety of negative outcomes. This pilot study presents a new model of care, that is, the combined application of intensive home treatment and the possibility of short term stay at a psychiatric high & intensive care.

In total 112 referred adolescents with mixed diagnoses participated in this longitudinal observational design. Clinical outcome was measured by the Health of the Nation Outcome Scales for Children and Adolescents (HoNOSCA) which measures the severity of multiple mental health problems. The HoNOSCA was clinician-rated at intake, after two months and after four months at discharge. Change in HoNOSCA total score was analysed with paired t-tests. Outcome moderators were gender, age, primary diagnosis, clinical admission, home treatment-time, medication and additional therapies. Follow up data were completed for 62 patients after two months and for 53 after four months.

Participants aged between 11 and 18 years (M = 14.8 years, SD = 0.3; 52% female). Mean HoNOSCA total score at intake was 18.8 (SD = 5.2), after two months 13.0 (SD = 5.0); after four months resulting in a score of 9.3 (SD = 5.2). None of the moderators tested showed a significant effect on HoNOSCA scores. However, a control group could not be used because of the severe psychopathology and high risk for suicidality and the lack of an effective treatment intervention for a comparable study group.

With a symptom decrease of over 50% within four months as measured by the HoNOSCA, including less risk for hospitalization, this new model appears promising and of clinical relevance. Nevertheless, further research regarding stability of treatment outcome is warranted and evaluation of long-term effects of this model in follow-up studies is needed.

Jet B. Muskens, Pierre C. M. Herpers, Caroline Hilderink, Patricia A. M. van Deurzen, Jan K. Buitelaar & Wouter G. Staal
BMC Psychiatry, volume 19, Article number: 412 (2019)