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Study shows strengths, gaps in quality of care for kids in California's public mental health clinics

A UCLA-led study of children's patient records at California's public mental health clinics identifies strengths and gaps in quality of care.

Published in the February edition of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the study examines safety and appropriateness of care for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), conduct disorder and major depression in the public clinics. It is the first statewide study on quality of care for children.

The study gives high marks to the comprehensiveness of mental health evaluations, but finds moderate to poor documentation of medical monitoring psychoactive medications, child abuse screening and reporting, parent consent for medication treatment, and recommended contact with schools and other health-care providers. For example, nearly three-quarters of patient records of children receiving psychoactive medication did not document adequate safety monitoring through vital signs or laboratory studies.

"Findings from this study raise serious questions about the documentation of the child's response to medication treatment and the adequacy of medical monitoring" said Dr. Bonnie T. Zima, principal investigator and professor in residence of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences at the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute and the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. "Our research team looks forward to working with the state and county mental health departments on developing programs to improve the quality of care that children receive and the documentation of that care."

The study was sponsored by the California Department of Mental Health with additional funding provided by the National Institute of Mental Health. Institutional research partners were the National Research Center on Asian American Mental Health at the University of California at Davis; the Center for Mental Health Services Research at the University of California at Berkeley and at San Francisco; C
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Contact: Dan Page
dpage@mednet.ucla.edu
310-794-2265
University of California - Los Angeles
20-Jan-2005


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