A Comparison of Youth Referred to Psychiatric Emergency Services: Police Versus Other Sources

M. E. Evans and R. A. Boothroyd,
Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law 30(1): 74-80, 2002.
Although the presentation of children and adolescents to psychiatric emergency services has been increasing, little is known about the characteristics of these persons, the circumstances surrounding their referral for treatment, or their disposition. This study compares patients referred by police with those referred by others, based on data from a study of 1,779 patients in the Bronx, New York. Logistic regression was used to develop propensity scores for selection of a matched sample of non-police referrals (n = 159) to compare with police referrals (n = 53). Caregivers in police-referred cases were rated as less capable of active treatment involvement, and domestic violence was more likely to occur in their homes. Police referrals had higher substance use in the past month than referrals from other sources, were rated as more symptomatic and dangerous to self and others, had exhibited more assaultive and destructive behavior, and were less likely to be referred to outpatient services.