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Pediatrics. 2011 Nov;128(5):e1226-32. doi: 10.1542/peds.2010-3609. Epub 2011 Oct 17.

Prevalence of physical health problems among youth entering residential treatment.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE 68588-0308, USA.



To examine the prevalence of physical health problems among youth entering residential treatment.


The sample included 1744 youth (mean age: 14.6 ± 1.8 years) entering a large residential treatment program between 2000 and 2010. Youth received an intake medical evaluation, including a review of available records, detailed medical history, and physical examination. Medical conditions present at the time of the evaluation were recorded by the examining physician and later coded by the research team. Only diagnoses recognized by the International Classification of Diseases, 10th Revision, were included in the analyses. To maintain the focus on physical health problems, behavioral and emotional disorders listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision were excluded. Obesity, acne, and allergies were also excluded.


Approximately one-third (33.7%) of youth had a physical health diagnosis at the time of intake. Asthma was the most prevalent condition diagnosed (15.3% of the sample). Girls were significantly more likely to have a diagnosis than were boys (37.1% vs 31.5%). Age was not associated with diagnostic status. Rates of physical health conditions differed significantly by ethnicity: black (36.4%) and white (35.4%) youth had the highest rates, and Hispanic youth (23.2%) had the lowest.


Youth who enter residential treatment have high rates of physical health conditions. These problems could complicate mental health treatment and should be considered in multidisciplinary treatment planning.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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