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J Pediatr. 2013 Mar;162(3):618-23. doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2012.09.006. Epub 2012 Oct 23.

Disparities in psychiatric emergency department visits among youth in Hawai'i, 2000-2010.

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Department of Psychiatry, John A. Burns School of Medicine, University of Hawai'i at Mānoa, Honolulu, HI 96813, USA.



To describe the frequency and patient characteristics of emergency department encounters for mental health among youth, and to examine differences in utilization and treatment patterns.


Data were obtained from the Hawai'i Health Information Corporation database of emergency department records between January 1, 2000, and December 31, 2010. Analyses were limited to records of visits by patients aged <18 years with a diagnosis of mental disorder or a suicide attempt.


The annual average rate was 49.7 emergency department visits related to mental health issues per 10 000 youth, accounting for 2.1% of all emergency department visits among youth. Rates of mental health-related visits significantly and steadily increased, from a low of 25.8 in 2000 to a high of 67.4 in 2010. Rural areas consistently exhibited higher rates and acceleration at a steeper incline across time. Rural youth were more likely to be discharged or transferred for inpatient care or outpatient services compared with urban youth (6.3% vs 12.4%; χ(2) = 61.42; df = 3; P < .001).


The trend in emergency department utilization for mental health-related issues in adolescents is apparently increasing, with significantly higher rate and morbidity for youth in rural areas. Several recommendations are described for creating a responsive and integrated system of mental health care for youth, covering training, consultation, screening, and brief interventions.

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