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J Adolesc Health. 2014 Aug;55(2):276-80. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2014.01.009. Epub 2014 Mar 17.

The effect of geographic moves on mental healthcare utilization in children.

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Naval Medical Center San Diego, San Diego, California. Electronic address:
Naval Medical Center San Diego, San Diego, California.
Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Maryland.



Geographic moves have been reported to have a negative impact on the mental health of children, but it is often difficult to separate the effect of the move from the circumstances that impelled it. Military populations may offer a way to examine this issue. Moves are common in military families, but parental employment and healthcare coverage remain constant.


Children of military parents with geographic moves in 2008 were compared with those without geographic moves with regard to the odds of mental health service use in 2009.


This study included 548,336 children aged 6-17 years, and 179,486 (25%) children moved in 2008. Children aged 6-11 years with a geographic move had higher odds of mental health and outpatient visits (odds ratio [OR] 1.03; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.01-1.06). Children aged 12-17 years with a geographic move had higher odds of mental outpatient visits (OR 1.04; 95% CI 1.01-1.07), psychiatric hospitalizations (OR 1.19; 95% CI 1.07-1.32), and emergency psychiatric visits (OR 1.20; 95% CI 1.07-1.32).


Children with a geographic move in the previous year have increased odds of mental health encounters. Among adolescents, this increase extends to psychiatric hospitalizations and emergency visits.


Geographic moves; Mental health; Military

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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