Purpose: To examine hospitalization patterns, length of stay, cost and insurance status for children and adolescents with Eating Disorders.
Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted of patients with eating disorders aged 9 to 17 years, discharged from hospitals in the State of New York in 1995. All patients discharged in the state were registered by the State Planning and Research Collaborative System (SPARCS). A subset was identified based on coding by the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) for Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia and Eating Disturbance Not Otherwise Specified. The Statistical Analysis System (SAS) was used for data analysis. The variables selected were gender, ethnicity, insurance status and length of stay.
Results: In one year there were 352 hospitalizations, 312 females (88.6%) and 40 males (11.4%); 279 Caucasians (79.3%), 35 African Americans (9.9%), and 38 Other (10.8%); commercial insurance 246 (69.9%), Medicaid 68 (19.3%), other 38 (10.8%). The diagnostic categories were Anorexia Nervosa 242, Bulimia 59, and Eating Disturbance Not Otherwise Specified 63 (reflecting dual diagnosis in 13). Mean length of stay was 18.43 days, the median was 7 days. The cost per stay ranged between 341.78 dollars and 148,471 dollars; with a median of 3817 dollars and a mean of 10,019 dollars. Length of stay was not influenced by gender, age, or ethnicity; only payor status, availability of insurance, was dominant.
Conclusions: This is the first statewide report on hospitalization of children and adolescents for eating disorders. The mean cost in 1995 exceeded 10,000 dollars. A correlation was found between length of stay and insurance status. Hospitalizations for eating disorder have a significant public health impact, calling for the formulation of fair and rational strategies to optimize care.