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J Abnorm Child Psychol. 2015 Apr;43(3):553-65. doi: 10.1007/s10802-014-9928-z.

Why wait? The effect of wait-times on subsequent help-seeking among families looking for children's mental health services.

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Department of Psychology, The University of Western Ontario, 363 Windermere Rd, Room 326E, Westminister Hall, N6A 3K7, London, ON, Canada,


Placement on a wait-list may increase families' help-seeking efforts, leading them to contact more than one children's mental health (MH) agency/professional. Two issues were examined in the current study: 1) Does time on a wait-list for families impact the time to contact a new agency for children's MH services? 2) What are the effects of predisposing (e.g., child age), need (e.g., child psychopathology), and enabling/system-level factors (e.g., parent treatment history) on the length of time parents wait before they contact a new agency for help with their child's MH problems? A total of 273 families seeking help for their child (64% boys, M = 10.7 years old, SD = 3.3) were asked about their contact with MH agencies/professionals during the previous year. Survival analyses, modeling time from initial wait-list placement to when a new agency was contacted, were conducted separately for families who did (n = 114), and those who did not (n = 159), receive help prior to contacting a new agency. Almost half of wait-listed families contacted a new agency by the end of the study period. Longer wait-time was associated with a greater likelihood of seeking help at a second agency with 25% of families contacting a new agency within the first month of being wait-listed. Parents with previous treatment experience and families living in areas with more agencies contacted a new agency sooner. Subsequent help-seeking behaviour suggests parents' intolerance for lengthy treatment delays may result in disorganized pathways to care. These findings suggest a highly fragmented service delivery system.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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