Child Psychiatry Consult

Pediatric Psychiatry Services Infiltrate Primary Care



The program has greatly increased the number of children accessing psychiatric services compared with a previous pilot program in central New York that provided immediate telephone referrals and psychiatric consultation within 24 hours of a request, Dr. Hargrave said in a separate poster presentation at the meeting.

The CAP PC program improved upon the pilot by offering psychiatric consultation within 2 hours of a request, occasional in-person consultations, the education program, and a centralized computer database that allows the therapists and psychiatrists on different shifts to access patient records quickly, she said.

Compared with data from 2 years of the pilot program, data from the CAP PC program in the central New York area showed an increase in the number of children served from 6 to 14 per month (a 133% gain), an increase in the number of clinicians involved from 77 to 116 per month (a 51% gain), and an increase in the proportion of patients managed within the primary care office because of a decrease in the rate of referrals to more expensive specialists from 39% to 22%, Dr. Hargrave reported.

"The amount of morbidity that primary care physicians are coping with is amazing," especially in rural areas, she said.

Texas Model

A different model in Texas significantly decreased psychiatric symptoms and improved quality of life in children and adolescents participating in the program, Dr. Steven R. Pliszka reported in another poster presentation.

Courtesy Dr. Teresa M. Hargrave

Dr. Steven R. Pliszka

The Services Uniting Pediatrics and Psychiatry Outreaching to Texas (SUPPORT) program, funded by the Department of State Health Services, placed master’s level licensed therapists into primary care pediatric practices in six regions across the state. These therapists tried to see patients the same day that pediatricians referred them, and typically saw each patient for one to six sessions of practical, problem-focused therapies. A consulting child and adolescent psychiatrist helped determine which patients might need psychotropic medication and advised pediatricians on drug choice, dosing, and monitoring.

The SUPPORT program enrolled 145 pediatricians and 14,582 children covered by Medicaid. The outcomes evaluation involved a subset of 4,047 patients who were assessed at baseline, 3 month, and 6 months using the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) and the Pediatric Quality of Life Inventory (PedsQL).

In both younger (1.5-5 years of age) and older children (5-18 years), scores significantly decreased on the internalizing, externalizing, and total scales of the CBCL as well as on the individual symptom scales. Scores on the PedsQL improved significantly in each of four age groups (2-4 years, 5-7 years, 8-12 years, and 13-18 years), said Dr. Pliszka, professor and chair of child and adolescent psychiatry at the University of Texas at San Antonio.

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