Caregiver perspectives during the post inpatient hospital transition: A mixed methods approach.


Background: Knowledge of caregiver perspectives of their psychosocial resources and needs during the post inpatient psychiatric hospitalization is limited. Examining caregivers’ perspectives of the transition period may be a critical step in improving the transition success of children with emotional and behavioral disorders. Using quantitative and qualitative methods, we investigated the psychosocial resources and needs of caregivers after a child inpatient hospitalization. Objective: This study sought to examine the psychosocial resources of caregivers of children leaving intensive psychiatric care and participating in a post-inpatient transition program, and to describe their reported needs at home and school. Methods: Forty-four caregivers were recruited from the child and adolescent psychiatric inpatient units of two hospitals (one urban, one suburban). We utilized a partially mixed concurrent equal status design for mixed-methods analysis. Qualitative data were analyzed using consensual qualitative research methodology. Results: Caregivers reported high levels of strain, child symptomatology, and low levels of empowerment and social support. Their satisfaction with school and mental health services were mixed. Caregivers identified a need for increased knowledge of behavior management strategies, improved caregiver/child relationship, more emotional support, and increased access to services for their children. Areas of concern in the school setting included social-emotional functioning, learning, access to school services, and advocacy. Conclusion: These findings expand our knowledge of caregivers’ psychosocial resources and needs during their children’s inpatient psychiatric hospitalization and subsequent transition to home and school. As research in this area develops, we suggest that incorporating caregivers’ needs into transition planning may result in more effective and acceptable interventions for families.