The Impact of Family Therapy Participation on Youths and Young Adult Engagement and Retention in a Telehealth Intensive Outpatient Program: Quality Improvement Analysis

Katie R. Berry, Kate Gliske, Clare Schmidt, Jaime Ballard, Michael Killian, Caroline Fenkel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Early treatment dropout among youths and young adults (28%-75%) puts them at risk for poorer outcomes. Family engagement in treatment is linked to lower dropout and better attendance in outpatient, in-person treatment. However, this has not been studied in intensive or telehealth settings. Objective: We aimed to examine whether family members’ participation in telehealth intensive outpatient (IOP) therapy for mental health disorders in youths and young adults is associated with patient’s treatment engagement. A secondary aim was to assess demographic factors associated with family engagement in treatment. Methods: Data were collected from intake surveys, discharge outcome surveys, and administrative data for patients who attended a remote IOP for youths and young adults, nationwide. Data included 1487 patients who completed both intake and discharge surveys and either completed or disengaged from treatment between December 2020 and September 2022. Descriptive statistics were used to characterize the sample’s baseline differences in demographics, engagement, and participation in family therapy. Mann-Whitney U and chi-square tests were used to explore differences in engagement and treatment completion between patients with and those without family therapy. Binomial regression was used to explore significant demographic predictors of family therapy participation and treatment completion. Results: Patients with family therapy had significantly better engagement and treatment completion outcomes than clients with no family therapy. Youths and young adults with ≥1 family therapy session were significantly more likely to stay in treatment an average of 2 weeks longer (median 11 weeks vs 9 weeks) and to attend a higher percentage of IOP sessions (median 84.38% vs 75.00%). Patients with family therapy were more likely to complete treatment than clients with no family therapy (608/731, 83.2% vs 445/752, 59.2%; P<.001). Different demographic variables were associated with an increased likelihood of participating in family therapy, including younger age (odds ratio 1.3) and identifying as heterosexual (odds ratio 1.4). After controlling for demographic factors, family therapy remained a significant predictor of treatment completion, such that each family therapy session attended was associated with a 1.4-fold increase in the odds of completing treatment (95% CI 1.3-1.4). Conclusions: Youths and young adults whose families participate in any family therapy have lower dropout, greater length of stay, and higher treatment completion than those whose families do not participate in services in a remote IOP program. The findings of this quality improvement analysis are the first to establish a relationship between participation in family therapy and an increased engagement and retention in remote treatment for youths and young patients in IOP programing. Given the established importance of obtaining an adequate dosage of treatment, bolstering family therapy offerings is another tool that could contribute to the provision of care that better meets the needs of youths, young adults, and their families.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere45305
JournalJMIR Formative Research
Volume7
DOIs
StatePublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Katie R Berry, Kate Gliske, Clare Schmidt, Jaime Ballard, Michael Killian, Caroline Fenkel.

Keywords

  • adolescents
  • family therapy
  • intensive outpatient
  • mental health
  • treatment engagement
  • young adults

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article

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