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Child Youth Serv Rev. 2011 Nov;33(11):2253-2260.

Parent-adolescent concordance on perceived need for mental health services and its impact on service use.

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School of Social Work, University of Maryland, Baltimore, Louis L. Kaplan Hall, 525 W. Redwood Street, Baltimore, MD 21201, United States


Mental health service underutilization among African American adolescents is well documented, yet not fully understood. Discordance between adolescents and their parents on perceived need for seeing a counselor for an emotional need or psychiatrist for psychiatric or medical services may help explain low service use among this population. This exploratory, prospective study examined the relationship between parent-adolescent concordance on perceived need for emotional counseling or psychiatric services and mental health service use. The relationships between gender and perceived service need and concordance and adolescent severity of depressive symptoms were also explored. Parent-adolescent dyads (n=108) receiving community-based adolescent outpatient mental health services responded to interview questions concerning their perception of whether an emotional counselor and a psychiatrist were needed in the past six months. Findings revealed low parent-adolescent concordance on perceived need for an emotional counselor and a psychiatrist. A greater proportion of adolescents reported a need than parents. There was no association between gender and perceived need for an emotional counselor and a psychiatrist. Lower rates of parent-adolescent concordance were found among youth reporting elevated depressive symptoms compared to youth reporting normal range symptoms. Concordant dyads kept a higher number of appointments than discordant dyads. Implications for clinical social work practice and future research are discussed.

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