Approximately 15,000 children are currently in residential psychiatric
treatment in the United States. Their response to treatment and their
long-term adaptation remain only partially understood. The authors review
24 child inpatient follow-up studies and discuss their methodologies.
Findings are presented along 10 dimensions relevant to long-term outcome.
Good prognosis was positively correlated with adequate intelligence,
nonpsychotic and nonorganic diagnoses, absence of antisocial features and
bizarre symptoms, healthy family functioning, adequate length of stay, and
involvement in aftercare. The authors discuss factors suggesting caution in
the interpretation of these findings. They emphasize the importance of
longitudinal research in developing empirically based, increasingly
effective treatment programs.