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Health Check: Reducing hospital readmission of children with mental illness

A new study from Bradley Hospital promises to help reduce hospital readmissions for children with a higher level of mental illness. (WJAR)

A new study from Bradley Hospital promises to help reduce hospital readmissions for children with a higher level of mental illness.

The study, published online in Child Psychiatry and Human Development, looked at 261 children treated at Bradley’s Pediatric Partial Hospital program for oppositional defiant disorder. Some of the hallmarks of this mental illness include yelling, screaming and noncompliance. Of those children, 61 were subsequently readmitted, usually within one year.

Dr. John Boekamp, principal investigator in this study, said the children were between the ages of 3 and 7 and took part in a four-week, intense, family-focused program. Many of those re-hospitalized also had suicidal thoughts and post-traumatic stress disorder.

"Based on all of those efforts, these children are more likely -- even with those efforts -- are more likely to come back if they've had traumatic life exposures like post-traumatic stress disorder or suicidal thoughts," said Boekamp, clinical director of the Pediatric Partial Hospital program.

"And so our goal, with this study, was to illustrate, to highlight the need for these children to receive more intensive, longer term care to see if we can protect them from outcomes such as more suicidal thoughts and behaviors as they grow older," Boekamp said.

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