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Poster Abstracts

Service needs of families of adolescents with mental health difficulties


Ana Rodríguez Meirinhos ,

Lucía Antolín-Suárez,

Alfredo Oliva


Introduction: For families of children with mental illness, adolescence is a major struggle and few parents find service systems to be helpful during this period [1]. These difficulties seem to span across various dimensions such as availability of health, educational and community resources, barriers to accessing services, understanding of health care providers and specially those related to the transition to adult healthcare service system and the restrictions imposed by confidentially. Particularly, this legal transition limits the role that family is allowed to play in supporting and advocating for their child and usually results in parents being excluded from health care decisions [2,3]. In summary, these families experience several support needs that need to be more clearly addressed to help professionals and policy makers to improve service provision. To this end, this study aimed to synthesize the existent research on the service needs of families of adolescents with mental health conditions and to develop a comprehensive taxonomy of them.

Method: A systematic review of literature following the PRISMA guidelines was conducted. The search of peer-review papers published in English and Spanish between 2010 and 2015 was performed in 8 databases. The tool CASP Qualitative Checklist [4] was used to assess the methodological quality of selected papers. Finally, to analyze and synthesize the data extracted, we performed a thematic qualitative synthesis method.

Results: A total of 7299 papers were identified, from which 22 met the search eligibility criteria and were included in the review. From data analysis, we extracted 35 needs that were gathered in 5 categories: related to (1) respite care provision; (2) social services; (3) educational services and teachers; (4) healthcare services and interventions; and (5) healthcare providers. Commonly reported needs included: being actively involved in adolescent treatments, to be shown respect and honesty by professionals working with their child, more preventive interventions, an improvement in support provisions to meet family needs, respite care services and community integration options for adolescents.

Discussion: Findings of this review provide evidence of parents’ desire to be active members of the caregiving teams even when the adolescent has achieved the age to exercise self-determination. Moreover, designing integrated interventions to meet the entire family’s needs is crucial to support these families.

Conclusion: The current study provides valuable insight into the service needs that families of adolescents with mental illness experience. This information may contribute to the development of resources and services from a more preventive and health promotion perspective.


1. Davis M, Butler M. Service systems supports during the transition from adolescence to adulthood: Parent perspectives. Washington, DC: National Technical Assistance Center for State Mental Health Planning; 2002.

2. Jivanjee P, Kruzich J, Gordon, L. The age of uncertainty: Parent perspectives on the transitions of young people with mental health difficulties to adulthood. Journal of Child and Family Studies. 2009;18:435-46.

3. Wodehouse G, McGill P. Support for family carers of children and young people with developmental disabilities and challenging behaviour: what stops it being helpful?. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research. 2009;53(7):644–53.

4. Critical Appraisal Skills Programme. CASP Qualitative Checklist: Making sense of evidence about clinical effectiveness: 10 questions to help you make sense of qualitative research. Oxford: CASP; 2014. [cited 2015 17 Oct]. Available from:

How to Cite: Rodríguez Meirinhos A, Antolín-Suárez L, Oliva A. Service needs of families of adolescents with mental health difficulties. International Journal of Integrated Care. 2016;16(6):A5. DOI:
Published on 16 Dec 2016.


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