School of Medicine Publications and Presentations

Prevalence of Psychiatric Disorders Among Children and Adolescents in Child Welfare Custody Admitted to the Hospital: A Nationwide Inpatient Sample Analysis

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Objective: To assess the prevalence of psychiatric disorders among children and adolescents in child welfare custody admitted to the hospital.

Methods: Data were collected from the 2016–2017 National Inpatient Sample of the US population of general hospital admissions. Data for patients aged 12–17 years who were in child welfare custody were obtained using the ICD-10 diagnosis code Z6221: child in welfare custody. The control group comprised patients not in child welfare custody. Groups were compared for demographic, clinical, and hospital characteristics.

Results: The study group included 879 child welfare patients, of whom 38.9% were male, with a mean age of 14.7 years. The control group comprised 222,494 patients, of whom 41.2% were male, with a mean age of 14.9 years. In the study group, 69.4% of patients had mood disorders compared to 28.6% in the control group. Half of the patients in the study group had anxiety disorders and almost 44% had ADHD and other conduct disorders compared to 19.3% and 14.2%, respectively, in the control group. Prevalence of suicidal ideation/attempt was almost 3 times higher in the study group compared to controls (41.0% vs 14.8%), and 18.3% of study group patients had a substance use disorder compared to 8.3% of controls. Mood disorders were the most common reason for hospitalization (44.8% vs 19.2%), followed by ADHD/other conduct disorders (5.3% vs 1.1%) and anxiety disorders (4.9% vs 0.9%).

Conclusions: Children and adolescents in the child welfare system are associated with a higher risk of mental health problems. More studies are needed to identify the factors that contribute to psychiatric comorbidities in this population and to determine and address the factors that can prevent mental health issues.


© 2023 Physicians Postgraduate Press, Inc.

Publication Title

Primary Care Companion for CNS Disorders



Academic Level


Mentor/PI Department