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J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2000 Dec;39(12):1485-95.

Toward a level playing field: predictive factors for the outcomes of mental health treatment for adolescents.

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Center for Applied Research and Evaluation, Department of Pediatrics, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock 72205, USA.



To understand better the effectiveness of routine treatment for emotional and behavioral problems experienced by adolescents, methods are needed to control for between-provider differences in the distribution of factors that adversely affect treatment success. Such methods are necessary to fairly compare providers' outcomes and to aid clinicians in identifying adolescents for whom routine care may need to be altered. As a preliminary step toward developing a model to adjust treatment outcomes to account for predictive factors, findings from studies of treated samples of adolescents were reviewed to identify the factors that influence the likelihood of treatment success for this population.


Medline and PSYCInfo databases were searched for studies of treated adolescents that reported the association between expert-nominated predictive factors and outcomes. Thirty-four studies met inclusion criteria.


Significant predictors identified in these studies include diagnosis, baseline severity of symptoms and functional impairment, family dysfunction, and previous treatment. Several expert-nominated factors have not been adequately studied in treated samples.


Much basic work is needed before a convincing body of empirical evidence can explain predictive factors for adolescent mental health treatment outcomes. Future efforts should determine a reduced set of predictive factors that can be measured with minimal burden to providers.

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