Objective: To help determine optimal strategies for treating suicidal adolescents, the authors studied family predictors of compliance with recommended psychotropic medication monitoring, individual therapy, and parent guidance/family therapy sessions.
Method: Sixty-six hospitalized, suicidal adolescents participated in a comprehensive diagnostic evaluation and depression/suicidality assessment. Family/parental assessment measures were the Family Assessment Device, Social Adjustment Inventory for Children and Adolescents (parent-adolescent subscales), Symptom Checklist-90-Revised, and Social Adjustment Scale-Self Report. Follow-up evaluation, 6 months posthospitalization, consisted of structured telephone interviews assessing treatment follow-through.
Results: Compliance with recommended medication follow-up (66.7%) and individual therapy (50.8%) was better than compliance with parent guidance/family therapy (33.3%) sessions. The most dysfunctional families and those with the least involved/affectionate father-adolescent relationships had the poorest follow-through with parent guidance/family therapy. Mothers' depressive and paranoid symptoms were linked with less adolescent individual therapy and family therapy follow-through. Mothers' hostility was associated with less medication follow-up.
Conclusions: Follow-through was best for medication and individual therapy. Multiple family/parental predictors of poor follow-through suggest the need for alternative or supplemental treatment strategies.