Parent and family factors associated with service use by young people with mental health problems: a systematic review

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Abstract

Aim:

To conduct a systematic review of parent and family factors associated with service use for young people with mental health problems, to inform early intervention efforts aimed at increasing service use by young people.

Methods:

A systematic search of academic databases was performed. Articles were included in the review if they had: a sample of young people aged between 5 and 18 years; service use as the outcome measure; one or more parental or family variables as a predictor; and a comparison group of non-service using young people with mental health problems. In order to focus on factors additional to need, the mental health symptoms of the young person also had to be controlled for. Stouffer's method of combining P-values was used to draw conclusions as to whether or not associations between variables were reliable.

Results:

Twenty-eight articles were identified investigating 15 parental or family factors, 7 of which were found to be associated with service use for a young person with mental health needs: parental burden, parent problem perception, parent perception of need, parent psychopathology, single-parent household, change in family structure and being from the dominant ethnic group for the United States specifically. Factors not found to be related to service use were: family history of service use, parent–child relationship quality, family functioning, number of children, parent education level, parent employment status, household income and non-urban location of residence.

Conclusions:

A number of family-related factors were identified that can inform effective interventions aimed at early intervention for mental health problems. Areas requiring further research were also identified.

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