Perspectives of Parents and Providers on Reasons for Mental Health Readmissions: A Content Analysis Study

Adm Policy Ment Health. 2021 Sep;48(5):830-838. doi: 10.1007/s10488-021-01134-6. Epub 2021 Apr 19.


Pediatric hospitalizations for mental health conditions are rapidly increasing, with readmission rates for mental health conditions surpassing those for non-mental health conditions. The objective of this study was to identify reasons for pediatric mental health readmissions from the perspectives of parents and providers. We performed a retrospective content analysis of surveys administered to parents and providers of patients with a 14-day readmission to an inpatient pediatric psychiatry unit between 5/2017 and 8/2018. Open-ended survey items assessed parent and provider perceptions of readmission reasons. We used deductive coding to categorize survey responses into an a priori coding scheme based on prior research. We used inductive coding to identify and categorize responses that did not fit into the a priori coding scheme. All data were recoded using the revised schema and reliability of the coding process was assessed using kappa statistics and consensus building. We had completed survey responses from 89 (64%) of 138 readmission encounters (56 parent surveys; 61 provider surveys). The top three readmission reasons that we identified from parent responses were: discordant inpatient stay expectations with providers (41%), discharge hesitancy (34%), and treatment plan failure (13%). Among providers, the top readmission reasons that we identified were: access to outpatient care (30%), treatment adherence (13%), and a challenging home (11%) and social environment (11%). We identified inpatient stay expectations, discharge hesitancy, and suboptimal access to outpatient care as the most prominent reasons for mental health readmissions, which provide targets for future quality improvement efforts.

Keywords: Mental health; Qualitative research; Quality improvement; Readmissions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Humans
  • Mental Health*
  • Parents
  • Patient Readmission*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Retrospective Studies