Mental health emergencies in paediatric services: Characteristics, diagnostic stability and gender differences

Montserrat Porter, Rebeca Gracia, Joan Carles Oliva, Montserrat Pàmias, Gemma Garcia-Parés, Jesús Cobo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: Child and adolescent psychiatric emergencies have increased in recent years. The main objective of our study is to analyze sociodemographic and clinical characteristics of psychiatric emergencies under 18 years old that came to our hospital. Secondary objectives were to study diagnostic stability made in the emergency department and undertake a gender analysis. Methods: Descriptive cross-sectional study of patients attending the pediatric emergency department who required consultation to psychiatry service during 2010 and 2011, comparing data with two previous cross-sectional cuts (2002-2003 and 2006-2007). Then we track the diagnoses assigned during a year. Statistical analysis was descriptive. We also include a gender analysis. Results: We analyzed 328 episodes corresponding to 179 different patients (average age 14.48). We detected a progressive increase of prevalence of psychiatric emergencies from 2002 to 2011. Diagnostic distribution showed a significant association of Behavioral Disorders with males and an association of Self-injured Behaviors and Eating Disorders with females. The admission rate was 18.5%. One-year diagnostic outcomes showed differences comparing to emergency diagnosis. Conclusions: Increase and complexity of psychiatric consultations in Pediatric Emergency Department requires a greater coordination and training of these services to enhance patients care. Emergency visit could mean the entrance of complex and severe patients to a specialized care. Our results detect gender differences: more Behavioral Disorders, Psychosis and Substance Use Disorders in males and Self-Injury and Eating Behavior Disorders in females.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)203-211
JournalActas Espanolas de Psiquiatria
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2016


  • Child behavior disorders
  • Emergencies
  • Pediatrics
  • Psychiatry
  • Suicide


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