Anxiety disorders are garnering increasing attention for their contribution to high-risk issues and functional impairment. Adolescents are typically admitted to partial hospitalization programs (PHPs) due to high-risk presentations. However, the frequency of anxiety disorders in PHPs is not well-established, in part because anxiety can be overlooked in acute settings due to limited lengths of stay and focus on stabilization.
This study aims to evaluate the frequency and severity of anxiety disorders among a sample of adolescent PHP patients to assess the need for anxiety-specific assessment and interventions in higher acuity settings.
Participants were 158 youths ages 13 to 19 years old (M = 15.49 years, SD = 1.50) who were admitted to an adolescent PHP and their caregivers. Clinician-reported diagnostic information was collected from the youth’s electronic medical record, and self- and caregiver-rated severity of anxiety was collected using the Screen for Child Anxiety Related Emotions Disorders (SCARED-C/P). Frequency of anxiety and related disorder diagnoses and self- and caregiver-reported severity were assessed using descriptive statistical methods.
75% of participants were diagnosed with an anxiety disorder (n = 118). On average, participants with anxiety disorders had elevated SCARED-C scores. Youths with depressive disorders had elevated SCARED-C scores even when they did not carry anxiety disorder diagnoses. Caregiver ratings of the youth’s anxiety symptoms on the SCARED-P were elevated when youths had anxiety disorders.
These findings suggest that anxiety is common in an adolescent PHP setting and support investing in evidence-based assessment and treatment of anxiety in high-acuity settings.