Repository logo

'Far Away from Home': adolescent inpatient admissions far from home, out of area or to adult wards: a national surveillance study.

Accepted version



Change log


Roe, James 
Guo, Boliang 
Dasilva-Ellimah, Morenike 


BACKGROUND: The increasing prevalence and acuity of mental disorders among children and adolescents have placed pressure on services, including inpatient care, and resulted in young people being admitted at-distance or to adult wards. Little empirical research has investigated such admissions. OBJECTIVE: To determine the incidence, clinical characteristics and 6-month outcomes of patients aged 13-17 years old admitted at-distance (>50 miles from home or out of region) to general adolescent psychiatric wards or to adult psychiatric wards. METHODS: Surveillance over 13 months (February 2021-February 2022) using the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Surveillance System including baseline and 6-month follow-up questionnaires. FINDINGS: Data were collected about 290 admissions (follow-up rate 99% (288 of 290); sample were 73% female, mean age 15.8 years). The estimated adjusted yearly incidence of at-distance admission was 13.7-16.9 per 100 000 young people 13-17 years old. 38% were admitted >100 miles from home and 8% >200 miles. The most common diagnoses at referral were depression (34%) and autism spectrum disorder (20%); other common referral concerns included suicide risk (80%), emotional dysregulation (53%) and psychotic symptoms (22%). Over two-fifths (41%) waited ≥1 week for a bed, with 55% waiting in general hospital settings. At 6-month follow-up, 20% were still in hospital, the majority in at-distance placements. CONCLUSIONS: At-distance and adult ward admissions for patients aged <18 remain an ongoing challenge for healthcare provision and have an impact on acute hospital resource use. CLINICAL IMPLICATIONS: Long waits in non-specialist settings increase pressure across the healthcare system, highlighting the need to improve local service provision and commissioning to reflect identified clinical needs.



Child & adolescent psychiatry, PSYCHIATRY, Adult, Child, Humans, Adolescent, Female, Male, Inpatients, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Hospitalization, Hospitals, General, Psychotic Disorders

Journal Title

BMJ Ment Health

Conference Name

Journal ISSN


Volume Title