Use of Outcomes Information in Child Mental Health Treatment

Results from a Pilot Study

Published In: Psychiatric Services, v. 61, no. 12, Dec. 2010, p. 1211-1216

Posted on RAND.org on December 01, 2010

by Bradley D. Stein, Jane N. Kogan, Shari Hutchison, Emily Magee, Mark J. Sorbero

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OBJECTIVE: This study examined parents and clinicians' use in treatment sessions of routinely collected information on child functioning for children receiving ambulatory mental health treatment. METHODS: Information was obtained from 1,215 Child Outcomes Surveys completed at ten provider organizations. The Child Outcomes Survey is a collaboratively developed brief strength-based measure of child functioning and therapeutic relationship. This study examined parent-clinician discussion of information obtained in the survey from the previous session. Chi square tests were used to examine the association between sociodemographic and clinical covariates and parent-clinician discussion of information. RESULTS: In the measure that assessed the extent to which parents discussed the information about their child's functioning in the prior session with their clinician, 61% of parents reported high levels of discussion, 25% of parents reported moderate levels of discussion, and 14% reported low levels of discussion. Parents of boys, Latino children, and children of "other" races were significantly more likely to report high levels of discussion than other parents. Levels of discussion about the results of the previous Child Outcomes Survey were positively and significantly associated with successful child functioning and therapeutic relationship with clinicians. CONCLUSIONS: The findings of high rates of use of outcomes data routinely gathered with a very brief measure are encouraging given prior reports of challenges in using such information in treatment sessions. The successful treatment of children and families requires an ongoing and effective partnership between parents and clinicians, and the results suggest how important routine conversations about the progress of children in treatment can be. Further research is needed to understand the impact of gathering and using such data on the process and outcomes of mental health treatment for children and families.

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