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Child and Adolescent Mental Health during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Challenges of Psychiatric Outpatient Clinics.

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Mosheva, Mariela 
Barzilai, Yael 
Hertz-Palmor, Nimrod  ORCID logo
Mekori-Domachevsky, Ehud 


BACKGROUND: Worldwide national surveys show a rising mental health burden among children and adolescents (C&A) during COVID-19. The objective of the current study is to verify the expected rise in visits to psychiatric outpatient clinics of C&A, especially of new patients. METHODS: a cross-sectional study focusing on visits as recorded in electronic medical records of eight heterogeneous C&A psychiatric outpatient clinics. The assessment was based on visits held from March to December of 2019 (before the pandemic) in comparison to visits held in 2020 (during the pandemic). RESULTS: The number of visits was similar for both periods. However, in 2020, 17% of the visits used telepsychiatry (N = 9885). Excluding telepsychiatry reveals a monthly decrease in traditional in-person activities between 2020 and 2019 (691.6 ± 370.8 in 2020 vs. 809.1 ± 422.8 in 2019, mean difference = -117.5, t (69) = -4.07, p = 0.0002, Cohen's d = -0.30). Acceptation of new patients declined during 2020, compared to 2019 (50.0 ± 38.2 in 2020 vs. 62.8 ± 42.9 in 2019; Z = -3.12, p = 0.002, r = 0.44). Telepsychiatry was not used for new patients. CONCLUSIONS: The activity of C&A psychiatric outpatient clinics did not rise but was guarded due to the use of telepsychiatry. The decline in visits of new patients was explained by the lack of use of telepsychiatry for these patients. This calls for expanding the use of telepsychiatry, especially for new patients.


Peer reviewed: True

Funder: Gates Cambridge Trust


COVID-19, child and adolescence psychiatry, child and adolescents, mental health, outpatient clinic

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Healthcare (Basel)

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Israel National Institute for Health Policy Research (5652020)