Adolescents’ use of care for behavioral and emotional problems: types, trends, and determinants
Objective. While adolescents use various types of care for behavioral and emotional problems, evidence on age trends and determinants per type is scarce. We aimed to assess use of care by adolescents because of behavioral and emotional problems, overall and by type, and its determinants, for ages 10–19 years. Methods. We obtained longitudinal data on 2,230 adolescents during ages 10–19 from four measurements regarding use of general care and specialized care (youth social care and mental healthcare) in the preceding 6 months, the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) and Youth Self-Report, and child and family characteristics. We analyzed data by multilevel logistic regression. Results. Overall rates of use increased from 20.1% at age 10/11 to 32.2% at age 19: general care was used most. At age 10/11 use was higher among boys, at age 19 among girls. Use of general care increased for both genders, whereas use of specialized care increased among girls but decreased among boys. This differential change was associated with CBCL externalizing and internalizing problems, school problems, family socioeconomic status, and parental divorce. Preceding CBCL problems predicted more use: most for mental health care and least for general care. Moreover, general care was used more frequently by low and medium socioeconomic status families, with odds ratios (95%-confidence intervals): 1.52 (1.23;1.88) and 1.40 (1.17;1.67); youth social care in case of parental divorce, 2.07 (1.36;3.17); and of special education, 2.66 (1.78;3.95); and mental healthcare in case of special education, 2.66 (1.60;4.51). Discussion. Adolescents with behavioral and emotional problems use general care most frequently. Overall use increases with age. Determinants of use vary per type.