Medically Hospitalized Patients With Eating Disorders and Somatoform Disorders in Pediatrics: What Are Their Similarities and Differences and How Can We Improve Their Care?
OBJECTIVES: The purpose of the current study is to describe the demographic and clinical characteristics and health care use of medically hospitalized patients with eating disorders (ED) and somatoform disorders (SFD) in a pediatric setting and to use the findings to explore opportunities for improved care.
METHODS: Retrospective chart reviews of 125 patients with SFD and 125 patients with ED (N = 250) seen at a tertiary pediatric facility over a 12- and 19-month period, respectively.
RESULTS: Patients in both groups were predominantly girls, white, came from households with above average incomes, and had academic pressures, internalizing coping styles, and high rates of anxiety disorders. Compared with SFD patients, ED patients had longer medical admissions (P < .001), more depressive disorders (P < .01), higher lifetime rates of suicidal ideation and self-injurious behaviors (P < .05), and were more frequently discharged to intensive psychiatric treatment programs (P < .001). SFD patients were referred later to psychiatry (P < .001), had more emergency department visits (P < .001) and more visits to other hospitals (P < .05) and also had higher rates of learning difficulties (P < .001), bullying (P < .05), and trauma (P < .01) compared with ED patients.
CONCLUSIONS: Identifying overlapping features and key differences in the clinical characteristics and health care use of patients with primary psychiatric disorders like ED and SFD, who are frequent users of medical services, is the first step toward developing innovative, integrated hospital-based care approaches and clinical pathways that can reduce service utilization and improve patient outcomes.
- Accepted September 12, 2016.
- Copyright © 2016 by the American Academy of Pediatrics